The Joe Rogan conundrum: For independent artists, what’s the cost of quitting Spotify? Musicians, managers, publishers weigh in on the boycott – Music
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For the sake of brevity, we’ll refer to the dilemma facing emerging artists facing doubts about the politics and finances of Spotify and music streaming in early 2022 as “The Joe Rogan Conundrum.”
On the question of whether to unplug their music from the digital service, it is often a question of whether a personal position is strong enough to outweigh the benefits of visibility and accessibility for potential fans of the whole world.
For jazz and rockabilly singer Jolie Goodnight, the question isn’t so much about the fractions of pennies she earns from streaming on the giant music streaming platform. Instead, it’s about whether her disagreement with the popular podcaster’s opinions is strong enough to push her away from a major resource to help build new fans.
“At the end of the day, my No. 1 priority is taking care of my fans, reaching new fans and being there for my audience,” said Goodnight, who leads his own jazz band and the band of rockabilly Jolie & the Jackalopes. “Does it make sense for me to stand firm in what I believe in? My current process is about what will hurt versus what will help, and what will jump on the bandwagon versus standing up for what you believe in .?
“I also don’t like the idea of a platform like Spotify becoming a place with only a certain type of voice. I’d rather have my voice accessible wherever it’s needed.”
Welcome to the life of an independent musician in the age of streaming. The ideological self-test that sprung up in January when classic rocker Neil Young – and a parade of his peers – opted to pull their catalogs from Spotify over his support of controversial podcaster Rogan offered a moment’s look. in the mirror for young musicians, many of whom already consider the music streaming service a must-have to be considered a legitimate artist.
Artists and managers interviewed on the Rogan Conundrum told the the Chronicle that the questions they face revolve more around how all streaming services fit into the puzzle of building a career in a world where touring is still an uncertainty and physical album sales have largely dried up.
Louie Carr, manager of Austin blues artist Jackie Venson, said he had scaled back efforts in promoting Spotify in recent years, in part because of attempts to gain spots on playlists of service led to frustration. Carr recalled the waste of spending $6,000 on a campaign with a playlist promoter while working on Venson’s 2019 album, Joycalling the game a playground for predators and snake oil sellers.
Carr and Venson still view Spotify as a necessary resource that helps strengthen the bond forged with fans on other social media platforms.
The ideological self-test that sprung up in January when classic rocker Neil Young – and a parade of his peers – opted to pull their catalogs from Spotify over his support of controversial podcaster Rogan offered a moment’s look. in the mirror for young musicians, many of whom already consider the music streaming service a must-have to be considered a legitimate artist.
“Don’t worry about tapping into your moral compass and wondering if you’re doing the right thing trying to keep your 20,000 or 10,000 listeners happy. It’s not really a moral dilemma for us here since we trying here to survive in the most tumultuous time in the history of the music industry. In this time when everything is difficult, Spotify is also adding revenue.”
As for Young and other legacy artists’ decision to leave Spotify and gain prominence on competing platforms in the process, Carr sees it as a matter of haves and have-nots.
“It’s their privilege but it’s not ours. Good for them and I appreciate the position, but we haven’t changed the sound of a generation and sold millions of albums. They have the privilege of financial security as we spend three quarters of every dollar we make to create and sustain ourselves.”
Kevin Wommack, a veteran artist manager and music publisher who helped launch the careers of Texas rockers Los Lonely Boys, said none of the two dozen artists in his Traffic Music Group stable had explored pulling his music from Spotify, which is a reliable source of income. for most of its customers.
“We’ve had calls from people wanting to know what Los Lonely Boys are going to do, or wondering if this person or someone else is going to take a stand…We work for the artist, so if they want their stuff removed we would go through each of them and ask if they are going to be selfless with where they are in their careers, and do you need that $1,000 that is coming this month or is that money worth it for you to take a stand?”
Wommack said the outreach offered to artists who earn spots on high-profile playlists on Spotify can play a big role in furthering their careers, with the Texas Gentlemen among his acts currently featuring prominently on the chart. platform.
Even with the potential benefits offered by streaming services, Wommack said he hopes the attention Young’s position brings will lead to a broader debate about how Spotify and others compensate artists in general.
“The focus shouldn’t be on what a local artist should be doing there and whether they’re going to get on the so-called cool bus, but on the right thing for Spotify to do,” he said. he declares.
“Spotify is a technology company, not a music company. It’s not about breakthrough artists. To them, a Joe Rogan podcast is the same type of content as a new Rolling Stones single or a single from Sweet Spirit. They don’t care and it’s just content for their tech. They use their tech to make money for themselves.
For bluesy pop ballad Nakia Reynoso, Spotify hasn’t been a major part of the promotion plan for the release of all three versions of her new musical’s music, piano duellargely because of his objections to how the platform uses its ownership deals with major label partners to create deals that result in low compensation for musicians.
Acknowledging that “there are a lot of people like Joe Rogan, and that’s not going to change,” Reynoso echoed Wommack in hopes that the scrutiny Spotify and other streamers are currently facing could lead to a bigger change.
“The good thing about Neil and Joni and all the people of this generation of protest is that they have the credibility to make a story out of it and just need other people to support them. At this point, this would be something Spotify should pay some attention to, and they’re already hammered on it.There’s never been a better time than now to say this stuff isn’t fair.