I have been a Spotify Premium ($9.99 a month) subscriber for a little over a year and this month I decided NOT to renew my subscription. I got into using Spotify by starting off with a free trial and discovering all kinds of new music I really liked. I decided to give it a try and pony up the cash to try the full service. I have to say I really enjoyed Spotify. I listened to it a lot while coding up my 1st iOS app in Xcode. I also listen to music while working on projects at work (helps keep me focused on what I'm doing rather than what others around me are doing). I also listen to music on the airplane and I travel a lot. Spotify's off-line listening options worked out really well for me. So why did I bail?
I first started re-considering the service when I started reading more and more negative press about Spotify in the news, with the loudest voice being that of Thom Yorke:
Thom Yorke from Radiohead: "Make no mistake, new artists you discover on Spotify will not get paid"
I've always been a firm believer that if something is important enough for you to go out and purchase it then you should pay a fair price for that item, otherwise you risk that service or individual not being able to sustain their profession. So when I started hearing all of this negative press against Spotify I thought it was time to leave the service. But rather than just blindly believe everything I read in the media I did a little more digging. Turns out these really low (very small fractions of a penny per song play) royalties artists were getting from Spotify was only part of the story. Forbes had an article that compared what an artist gets paid per song played on UK radio stations to what an artist gets paid from Spotify and it turns out that Spotify pays 16 times more per play than radio. Forbes also pointed out that just two days after Thom Yorke encouraged artists to pull their music from Spotify he launched (along with Atoms for Peace) a new music streaming service. The future of music coalition published a series of blogs posts and Part 3 took a closer look at exactly how much money artists make by selling their recordings. The data might surprise you..."For many musicians, the income derived from sound recordings is a small part of their overall revenue pie, and it’s decreasing." I will let you do your own digging into the finances of the music industry but it appears that the true answer is more complicated than the popular headlines in the media that say artists are getting the short end of the stick with music streaming services. The bottom line for me with all of this is that you shouldn't let artist royalties be a deciding factor for you.
So in the famous words of Paul Harvey..."and now you know the rest of the story"
So if I didn't leave Spotify because of the whole artist royalty uproar, why did I? It turns out that all of this thinking about how evil Spotify might or might not be I realized that I really wasn't using Spotify to it's full potential. After I listened to a pretty substantial number of new artists that Spotify helped introduce me to I started listening to the same albums over and over again. Old habits die hard. I wasn't using Spotify to its full potential. Once I find something I like I tend to listen to it over and over again, even if I have hundreds of thousands of other things I could listen to instead. You see, most of the time I am not in "discovery mode" when I listen to music. Most of the time I want familiar music that I can work to. So when I was using Spotify to just listen to the same music over and over again I really didn't need everything Spotify had to offer. This is what I learned about how I consume music...buying my music through iTunes and subscribing to iTunes Match was the best fit for me.
- I Buy What I like best & listen to that music over and over again
- I use iTunes Match to upgrade my music to a higher bit rate and to make it available on all my devices
- Gave my kids access to our music collection without having to constantly sync thier devices with a computer
- Commercial free iTunes Radio for music discovery
$25 a year for iTunes Match plus buying music ends up being more expensive than $120 a year with Spotify but it suits my music consumption needs better so it's well worth it. I recommend you take a close look at how you consume music and base your music service subscription choice on that. There a a ton of really great music subscription services so you are bound to find one that suits your needs.
For a really good guide on all the different music services out there check out this article from the Sweet Setup on the best music streaming service. They ended up picking Rdio as the best, but for very specific reasons. The article walks you through all the pluses and minuses of each service and your preferences may put one service above another.
Bottom line...choose a service that works for you and enjoy your music. Music artists get their revenue from many different sources so don't base your decision just on what gives artists the most profit. In the end a happier music consumer is better for all music artists.