The “Spotify Debate” has been raised to a new level. It features the same debate points, but now presented as dueling websites. Until now, the war of words and philosophies was waged in sniping blog posts and interview quotes among well-known musicians and pundits on both sides of the streaming music fence -- such as David Lowery, Thom Yorke, David Byrne, Billy Bragg, and Bob Lefsetz.
Here’s what’s going on this week.
On Monday, subscription music service Spotify launched SpotifyArtists, a resource site for musicians that also (naturally) advocates for Spotify as a distribution platform. The site presents an anatomy of Spotify royalty infrastructure, demystifying how payouts are calculated and clearing up misunderstandings. The site received widespread media attention for its transparent revelations and its resourceful reach-out to musicians.
Although Spotify’s website is named “Spotify Artists” in the page header, the browser-tab branding is “Spotify for Artists,” and a banner on the home page reads, “Welcome to Spotify for Artists!”
That’s important because today a new site appeared: SpotifyForArtists. With a similar look-and-feel, and nearly identical logo and trademark branding, it is confusing and fooling people, including Radiohead-affiliated producer Nigel Godrich, who nearly burst into flames on Twitter before being set straight about the hoax.
The spoof site is a poker-faced takeover of Spotify’s voice, realigned to the priorities of its most vehement critics. “We’ve really changed our ways,” the opening header declaims. Scrolling down the page reveals Spotify’s faux-intention to begin selling albums (with 95% of proceeds going to the artist), offer a consulting service to help musicians write better contracts with labels, and eliminate “secret math” describing how artists get paid.
It’s all entertaining (if arguably actionable), but with a serious purpose of continuing the debate and opposing the educational and peacemaking intent of Spotify’s real artist resource site. Whether it succeeds depends on individual viewpoint.