I’m afraid this post is only bad news. Yesterday, Daniel Ek – founder of Spotify – declared publically that he will be investing €100 million in an AI defence tech start up.
Let’s just think about that for a second. Daniel Ek created a platform that allowed listeners to stream music from millions of artists, and through ad revenue and subscription models, we as listeners believed that we were supporting our artists, that we were accessing music in a legal and fair way compared to the pirated downlowding that had come before.
Of course it didn’t take long to realise that artists in fact were not getting paid so well at all. And it wasn’t long after that, that we discovered that Spotify was using its own system to cheat.
Really, the time should have come when Spotify struck up a $100m deal with right-wing conspiricy touting mouthpiece Joe Rogan, but somehow I continued using the service both as a musician and as a listener. I certainly had plans to end my subscription, but by now I was so deeply connected witht he platform that the inconveinece seemed to far outweigh whatever impact I could have had.
But this is over the line.
I am sickened by the idea that my subscription money, and the subscriptions of others that I have encouraged as a musician, is being invested via Daniel Ek’s company, into developing artificial intelligence technology to be used in war. Even if you can somehow convince yourself that the good guys need the best weapons, you have to acknowledge that no technology – especially something software based like AI – remains in the right hands forever. The threat of combining AI and combat are beyond dangerous, they are an existential threat. And while this is happening, a tiny number of people will become richer and richer.
This is your subscription money. Money that you were told was supporting artists, or money that you were told wasn’t available to give to artists, becuase Spotify was giving as much as they could.
And that is why today I have cancelled my subscription with Spotify, and will be removing my music from the platform in the next few days. I simply cannot tolerate the idea that I could be funding warfare. I cannot have that blood on my hands.
My music will of course still be available on just about every other streaming platform such as Bandcamp – excluding Amazon.
I can’t tell you to cancel your subscription, but I do hope you will consider it. So below I’ve listed a few reasons why, and how you survive without it.
You can support musicians
Let’s be honest, Spotify don’t support musicians. The vast majority of the subscription you pay each month doesn’t even go to the artists you listen to. It gets dumped into a big pot and the artists with the most streams get the most money. The only real way to support your favourite artists is to actually buy their music, either from Bandcamp, iTunes, directly from their website or at gigs.
You can have more control over the music you listen to
Spotify is full of algorithms that are designed to keep you listening, but also to promote the music they deem worthy of promoting. When you open the app, you’re hit with curated playlists that someone else has built, over which the major labels have priorities through special deals they have with the platform. Listening to music away from Spotify means your data isn’t being collected to be used against you. Data that’s used by advertisers or by labels to shape the musical landscape
You’re helping break the homogeny and elitism of modern music
These spotify algorithms have effects similar to social media platforms, in that they create runaway cycles where the most popular content influences the next wave of content. Couple that with the need to reach big numbers in streams before anything pays, and you end up with this incestuous, monotonous landscape of cookie-cutter music that a robot has decided should be popular. Meanwhile, the humans who curate their own playlists have created a whole new pay-for-exposure industry, where musicians now have so much competition that they have to pay “influencers” and “curators” just to listen to their track. That’s right, not even to get onto the playlist, just for someone to listen to it. The result is that those with the most money get the best shot at exposure, and thus the most streaming revenue. We’ve now ended up with streaming being distributed much like wealth; an unimaginable concentration at the top that only continues to feed into itself. By pulling yourself out of the algorithms, you’re opening your mind to discovering music elsewhere, and you’ll probably pay more attention to it to.
You can still have the advantages you had before
I get it. Spotify is convenient. I don’t deny that moving away from it will be difficult. But there are ways to keep most if not all of the benefits you had before. Firstly, you can switch to another streaming platform that doesn’t fund (and profit from) war. Deezer and Tidal are two platforms that – as far as I’m aware – also do a better job of paying musicians. There are tools out there that can copy over all of your libraries and playlists too, so you don’t lose any of that. Even without those, there are still ways to keep streaming your music in much the same way as you did before. I use an app called Cloudplayer to stream music from OneDrive on my phone, meaning I can still listen to music on the go without having to fill up the memory on my phone. There are many other similar options out there. And if you’re listening on your computer, you get to use the good old stuff like Winamp. Remember Winamp? Spotify sure as hell doesn’t whip the llama’s ass.
You won’t be funding murder robots
Speaks for itself really doesn’t it.
You can still listen to my music on Spotify after I’ve taken it off
All you need to do is download it from Bandcamp for free, save it to your computer, allow Spotify to add local files and it will all be there. You can then even listen to my music on your phone via spotify, even when you’re not at home.
Anyway, That sums it up. I’m sorry to the 6 people who listen to my music every month for the inconvenience this will cause. But I hope this is a little step towards making the musical world a better place.
I promise I’ll have some other good news to share with you soon.
Peace, love and fishes x