Kanye West is the latest to reject Spotify with the release of “Donda 2”

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West (it was legally changed in October 2021. Show respect.) hasn’t posted 2 as it was supposed to on Tuesday, February 22 – just two days late with 16 songs streaming from the new album. 2however, is neither on a typical streaming platform nor available in physical form.

Ye’s New Home

Just like the original donda, released in August, the hip-hop legend performed songs from the album live, this time appearing to walk on water back to his original childhood home before it burst into flames at LoanDepot Park, the home of the currently locked-out Florida Marlins in Miami. An addition and upgrade to the 2021 shows, when he appears to sold-out arenas at his childhood homes in Atlanta and Chicago, Kanye has also screened the show in IMAX theaters across the country. What’s more impactful, West has turned away from traditional platforms like Apple Music and Spotify to release 2.

Kanye West on the ‘Watch The Throne Tour’ with Jay-Z in Gelredome Arnhem, Netherlands. Pieter-Jannick Dijkstra/Flickr

Instead, eager fans are being asked to shell out $200 for Ye’s new venture, the Stem Player. The main benefit of the bloated MP3 player seems to be the ability to split songs into “stems”, giving users the ability to amp up drums, bass, vocals, and more. to develop different angles on the songs via various effects. What’s interesting is why Ye did this, other than to order another shipping container full of US currency.

“Today artists only get 12% of the money the industry makes. It’s time to free music from this oppressive system. It’s time to take control and build our own,” Ye wrote on Instagram on February 17.

This decision to reject Spotify highlights the current period of strife in a music industry that is constantly fracturing and redefining.

Low pay and quick response

According to Spotify’s Loud&Clear data, artists are paid between $0.0033 and $0.0054 each time their song is played on Spotify. In 2020, 13,400 artists generated over $50,000 and 7,800 generated over $100,000 in recording and publishing royalties. Musicians will receive a fraction of this amount. And these are just the most successful performers. Spotify cited around 1.2 million artists with over 1,000 listeners in 2020.

The average price per play on Apple Music is only gradually higher at $0.01. That’s why many artists, including Ye, Taylor Swift, David Crosby and Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, have been tackling different aspects of the music industry over the past few months. Swift, in fact, ran the gamut.

In 2014, Taylor Swift’s album 1989 did not appear on music streaming services. Shortly after the album’s release, she deleted her catalog as well. Less than a year later, however, Swift put her first four albums on Tidal, then Apple Music, on a promise of better pay. Little did she realize, however, that Apple would waive payment for streams during a free three-week trial period that everyone received. Defending her earning potential and supporting other artists, Swift asked Apple Music to change its stance and compensate musicians during her probationary period. Swift also switched to Spotify in 2017 for financial reasons. That didn’t mean she was done defending herself though.

In November, Taylor’s new recording Red (originally appearing in 2012) signaled his triumph over studio bosses, and one studio boss in particular – Scooter Braun. Taylor began her career at Big Machine Records. After already switching labels, Braun, a man Swift called a bully, bought Big Machine in 2019. The singer doesn’t own the music she recorded with Big Machine, so in fact Braun has always kept Swift’s music control. The songwriter Is knew the songs from her first six albums, so Swift decided on the best thing to do: re-record those albums.

The results of the first experiment, Red, were an unsurprising but still stunning success. The new album is now Swift’s 10th number one album on the Billboard 200 charts, nine years after its original release. As of November 27, a few weeks after release, a staggering 26 Red the songs sat on the Billboard Hot 100.

Where this quick and intentional action by the megastar motivated other music performers to rise up, the inspiration also came as a by-product of another star’s actions.

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The unwitting example of Neil Young

Rock icon Neil Young’s rift with Spotify over hosting controversial podcaster Joe Rogan has sparked growing animosity over the streaming services’ low salaries.

The oft-quoted David Crosby, Young’s former bandmate, called Spotify execs “scummy people” at Stereogum and, to never miss an opportunity to cut ties, even advised young musicians to give up hope. and choose a new industry.

R&B singer India Arie was also tired of meager Spotify checks when Young took her music back to the California hills. She also criticized Rogan’s lyrics about race, so her decision to walk away felt justified even though she was giving up money. Leaving, however, provided Arie with the same challenges as Swift, as Motown owns most of his master recordings and refuses, at present, to take down the music.

For touring musicians who depend on live gigs to make money, these pandemic years have presented a disconcerting new economic picture where a paltry platform stream might be the only way to make money.

Spotify data indicates that only 13,400 artists generated over $50,000 and 7,800 generated over $100,000 in recording and publishing royalties in 2020. That’s out of 8 million artists on the platform that have released a total of 1.8 million albums and a total of 22 million tracks (including singles). That’s 0.15% of people on Spotify who actually make a living from the service.

The melodic note

Music is everywhere we go. Broadcast via loudspeakers on lazy Sundays. Coming from overhead at corner markets, grocery stores and big box stores. Overflowing from car windows and cafes. Stuffed in our ears on the way to work and at the gym. The ecosystem that streams music wherever we want it has been around for about three generations, evolving from payola to a monstrous empire before collapsing and growing again in the age of streaming. As has already been shown on the ever-changing ways of listening to music, there is no guarantee that tunes on demand will continue forever.

Artists like Ye are helping blaze new trails in the tech landscape. Enthusiasts might not want to shell out $200 for the Louis Vuitton Don’s new delivery system because it establishes new access to music. In order to support the former, music fans may need to open their wallets again to support a fragile ecology of the people who bring our harmonies.

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