Spotify is increasingly looking like a winning strategy for record companies trying to fight piracy. A new industry survey from Sweden where Spotify started reports that the rise of the streaming music service has coincided with a 25 percent drop in people stealing music over the past two years. In fact, streaming services are the most popular way for Swedes to consume music with over 40 percent of people surveyed admitting to using a streaming service versus less than 10 percent who confess to pirating. This is good news for the company that’s always billed itself to record companies and consumers alike as an alternative to stealing.
As I wrote in this screed of a post, bolstering the music industry should be seen as a major negative if you’re someone interested in the end of industrial music and a return to folk music culture. (I’m using folk to denote a model of production, not a genre.)
If your first instinct is “Well, at least the artists are getting paid” think again. It’s not at all clear that artists are winners in the Spotify model. Nor is it clear that producing music was ever really a very profitable exercise for artists themselves.
Meanwhile, Spotify is partnering with Facebook, which only furthers my concern that we are ceding too much control to a handful of companies in a way that is fundamentally at odds with what has been the ethos of the web.
(Btw, if you want to get a sense of what it actually costs to produce a record – which is relevant here if indirectly – I posed that question at Quora. Short answer: a few grand to do it decently. $20-30k for a professional-level album. However, big stars pay way more for well known producers.)