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Is Spotify's CEO Correct About The Need For Artist To Create More & Faster?

HURRY UP AND GET TO WORK! Basically what the CEO of Spotify Daniel Elk just said in a recent interview with Music:)ally. “There is a narrative fallacy here, combined with the fact that, obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.” Said Elk. To say this caused an uproar would be a HUGE understatement. Countless artists and music fans alike, chimed in with a ferocious harmony of disdain rivaling that of a fictious future Vanilla Ice tour announcement. But is there some degree of truth to his statement or is he just an out of touch executive?

With the advent of the internet, the music industry has never been more crowded. It’s now easier than ever for an artist to get their music out there. Long gone are the days of needing recording and distribution deals to get music out to the masses. Because of this we are now seeing a mass influx of new artist vying for the listeners attention, and with that attention span dwindling ever so slightly each generation, it is being argued that mass production of content is what is needed in order to keep the listeners attention and get them to stream more. More streams equal more pay for the artist.

Of course some artists will cultivate a loyal enough fan base that will stream their music no matter how long in between new albums, but for an up and coming artist, and artists who want to make more money off of streams, it would be safe to say that more is better.

It is public knowledge that Spotify doesn’t make the bulk of their money from streaming. In fact, one of Spotify’s biggest costs is paying royalties to the labels who own the master copies of the recorded music that enables Spotify to stream music in the first place. So, the issue of artists getting paid more for streams doesn’t look like it will be getting solved anytime soon because of this. So, the solution for this? Put more content out there quicker and you will be paid more.

This is where Daniel Elk got into hot water. Countless artists and fans balked out the idea of their favorite artist rushing to make an album that is sub-par to meet an unrealistic demand of a guy in a suit. My only question with this is where is the precedent for such a claim? I’m sure everyone has an example or two of an artist that took a few years to create an album, only to find that it didn’t live up to expectations. In fact, Led Zeppelin released 4 albums from January 1969 – November 1971 and they all went platinum!

Daniel Elk isn’t wrong, but he definitely was oblivious to the optics of such a statement. I would even propose that he misspoke in that instead of basically saying that artists need to pump out more albums maybe he meant just songs. And why is that such a bad thing? Do artist need to create entire albums anymore? Why not just release songs as they are created and if the idea of an album comes to fruition, then sit down and iron one out?

I don’t like the idea of a big corporation forcing my favorite artists to pump out music that would diminish the quality of the music, but I also don’t want to go back to a world where I have to buy albums again. It’s a catch 22 in that if we want artist to take their time and focus on the music, they need to get paid more, in order to do so we would have to go back to the album model again which is not ideal for the listener. I’m sure those of us who are old enough to remember how much it sucked paying $18 for an album to find that you only liked 2 songs on it are terrified of going back to this reality.

Both sides are right here and rather than bicker back and forth about who is, we need to start thinking of solutions to this conundrum. It’s not as simple as a big corporation being greedy and demanding more out of their “employees” or thinking that music quality equals more time spent on producing songs. It really comes down to artists and listeners finding a happy medium between how artists want to produce content and how the listeners want to consume it.

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