Elsewhere

At CapX:

Spotify is the very terror of the age apparently, as it means that we, the customers out here in the market, get masses of free (or at least very cheap) music, while the producers of it, the songwriters and bands, get fractions of a penny. Well done Mr. Harris over at The Guardian, this is the very point of a market economy in the first place. To be inelegant about it, sod the producers and look at the consumption.

In The Times:

Those sleeping rough can be broken down into two groups: the transient homeless who get picked up and placed in at least temporary accommodation quite quickly, and those for whom accommodation isn’t the problem at all.

Indeed, many of this second group, who suffer from a variety of illnesses, would still have roofs over their heads were it not for their distinct problems. The difficulty is not in finding them accommodation; it is in keeping them in it when they have it.

23 comments on “Elsewhere

  1. The artist payment model of Spotify *is* shit, though. I get a great service at a great price.. but all my money goes to Taylor Swift.

    I would like the market to deliver an alternative that works differently. But that’s hard because it requires a huge investment in setting up and securing the content.

    In the meantime I support artists I like by continuing to buy their albums (as long as they release them in an electronic lossless format). But I get why most people don’t.

    All that said.. there are enough big and rich acts out there who complain about Spotify and could feasibly seed an alternatively structured alternative. Spotify will change or die if those that want it to actually do something about it. Other than whine.

  2. To be inelegant about it, sod the producers and look at the consumption.

    That is a very odd article. One of the great and terrifying things about the market is disintermediation. Why do we need someone to stand between us and the musician? Much of that article claims to be talking about the poor exploited song producers, but actually it is defending the big Record Labels. So Spotify gives us all the cheap music anyone could want and in turn they pay the Labels roughly F**k all? Yeah. My heart bleeds for them. In an ideal world the artists would pay for their own music to come out in a suitable format and go directly on Spotify. In the end we don’t want the producers to go out of business, and we would rather they get most of the pennies we pay rather than pennies from the pounds we pay the Labels.

    I do not deny that the Labels have and probably do play a useful role. I just don’t see why they should have laws in place to retain that role when technology moves on.

    The rest seems the usual Guardian-boll0cks about a more authentic, artisanal way to consume music. Upper Middle Class w@nkery in other words. Oasis should consider themselves lucky to be my wall paper and if someone doesn’t like Spotify segregating his music he should listen to more diversely (and that is not ironic).

    The problem with homeless people is that they are often mad, bad and dangerous to know. So sensible homeless people don’t want to live in the same shelter with them. You can see this is going to be a problem to solve.

  3. There’s three problems with music. Firstly, anyone can make and release a song at almost no cost. So, there’s tons of amateurs. Secondly, back catalogues. We have 50-60 years of modern music (songs, electric guitars etc) and growing. What are you going to do that Hendrix, Abba, Kraftwerk, Sam Cooke, Madonna, the Clash and The Sisters of Mercy haven’t? And lastly there’s been almost no tech innovation in music for decades. Music kept getting breaks like tape recording, effects pedals, synths, samplers.

    I know a band that make a few grand a year selling music. They’re happy with that. They write songs for fun, don’t give up the day job.

  4. SMFS,

    I mean FFS: “people get bland playlists” rather than am eclectic mix of Wire, Bo Diddley, Murray Head and Nepalese throat singing.

    I’m currently listening to Purcell and Babymetal and that’s because of all this internet stuff.

  5. Anon – “I mean FFS: “people get bland playlists” rather than am eclectic mix”

    It is the Guardian so bland *and* racist! Bet ya didn’t see that one coming.

    “I’m currently listening to Purcell and Babymetal and that’s because of all this internet stuff.”

    +1 for the Babymetal. Who would have ever heard of them if not for Youtube and these sort of services? We owe Napstar a lot.

  6. “Don’t have any single artist appear on your playlist more than once,” goes Spotify’s advice to potential advertisers. “If you have a reason to believe a specific artist may have a problem with your brand, it’s probably smart to stay away from that artist.””

    I really like this. While the artist is virtue-signaling that they won’t appear in Tel Aviv or won’t allow the Mail to promote their music, there are far more firms quietly blacklisting wanker artists with big gobs. And the artist gets to pay for the pleasure of having a big gob; excellent.

  7. The long-standing complaint about the music industry, like all the arts, is that the popular artists get loads of dosh and the little guy can barely scrape a living. Spotify doesn’t change that.

  8. Re the those sleeping rough*. There was a story on one of the news channels about Glasgow council providing flats for them. Nothing flash but definitely worth having. Their spokesman was even proud of them leaving the flats empty when the person who had been allocated one went back on the street.

    It struck me as barmy, as Tim says, the problem here is most likely to be mental and that’s the help we should be giving.

    *given the very loose definition of homeless used by the various charities, we have to be very clear when discussing the problem of rough sleepers.

  9. Once again the Guardian finds itself on the side of Big Something-or-Other and against the consumer. It’s becoming an embarrassing habit for the self-described tribune of the people.

    Let’s have more cash given to record labels and bands so they can spend it on coke and fast cars! Rock ‘n roll!

  10. My guess is people at the Guardian know ‘artists’ and are sympathetic to the notion that they can no longer earn what they thought they could. They obviously don’t know any Uber drivers (why would they, as nearly all of them are ethnic minorities or immigrants and so a completely different class) and so had no objection to fucking up their lives to support a vested interest. Oh, well.

  11. @Andrew M

    Spotify makes it worse. At least in the old world, the money from people buying music by smaller artists went to those artists. Now it goes to Taylor Swift.

    I can pay $10, listen exclusively to Finnish prog all month, and Spotify will allocate $9.99 of my money to Taylor Swift.

  12. @TTG. Surely that would apply only if for every one of you listening to your Finnish prog there are 999 people listening exclusively to Taylor Swift? In which case it’s not really much different from the old days, where you buy one album and the bay city rollers sell a million singles to teenage girls.

  13. Andrew M

    “The long-standing complaint about the music industry, like all the arts, is that the popular artists get loads of dosh and the little guy can barely scrape a living. Spotify doesn’t change that.”

    Classical music is a good example, out of all the composers in history, just 5 get 90% of the paying time. And of the hundreds/thousands of compositions each create, just a handful get playing time.

    I’m told there are 9,000,000 songs online. 8,000,000 have never been played once and just 100 are 50% of the playing time.

    It really is a winner takes all business.

  14. I do not deny that the Labels have and probably do play a useful role. I just don’t see why they should have laws in place to retain that role when technology moves on.

    Ditto for book publishing.

    Firstly, anyone can make and release a song at almost no cost. So, there’s tons of amateurs.

    That, too.

  15. What Andrew M said. Apparently Pareto even applies to classical composers, and *within* the works of those composers it applies to their compositions.

  16. I’ve got the same problem with iPhone apps. Back in 2009 you could put out pretty much any crap and make thousands off it. My last two games have been some of my best but have made virtually nothing. Meanwhile everyone out there is getting unbelievably fantastic games for basically free.

  17. It’s a consequence of communication though, isn’t it? Initially you listen to the best guy in you village, then they get horses and carts and you can listen to the best guys in your county and so on until the internet means you can listen to the best guys in the world and the best guy in your village had to go back to his day job.

  18. @ MarkT
    “SUrely that would apply only if for every one of you listening to your Finnish prog there are 999 people listening exclusively to Taylor Swift”

    Exactly that.

    So it’s like the radio play model. Plays mean prizes. But that’s very different from the old purchase model. If you buy a Taylor Swift album and listen to it ten times, she only gets paid once. If you buy ten Finnish Prog albums and listen to them each once then each band gets paid.

    And Spotify allocates all the money accros total plays. So one person paying $10 (or nothing, because free subscriptions) and listening endlessly to Taylor Swift scoops up the money from the people who pay $10 and listen to less popular stuff.

    Radio play always favoured popular acts. That’s legit because popular acts attract listeners and advertisers. Purchased music went to the producer of that music. Streaming platforms sell Finnish Prog to Finnish Prog fans, and Taylor Swift to Taylor Swift fans. But even though they know who subscribed to what, they ignore it when they pay artists. That’s a choice they don’t have to make. They could link payments to the consumption of their subscribers.

    So, in summary, the shit from bought music to rented music has moved one major revenue stream from being fully consumer led, to global popularity led.

    My complaint isn’t about labels bring cut out. Fuck them. It’s about artists losing revenue from the people who have paid to listen to them.

    I have, from a previous life, got music on Spotify. I doubt it gets played much. But we’ve never had a dime. Making records costs money and it was nice to get a bit of that back from people who liked our stuff. If someone subscribed to Spotify to listen to my band and others like us, why the fuck should Taylor Swift get paid? Why should she take out vastly more than her fans put in?

    At least the Bay City Rollers sold records (aka earned revenue) from their fans. They didn’t get anything from Nick Drake fans. So no, Spotify isn’t like *that*.

  19. “Firstly, anyone can make and release a song at almost no cost. So, there’s tons of amateurs.”

    Bollocks. Bedroom electrionica just needs a person with time and a computer. But, still: time. Bands need multiple people’s time, and studios, and practice space, and maybe an engineer, maybe mastering and production. Some great records have been made at minimal cost… but most have not.

    One of the best Radiohead songs was recorded by Thom at a piano mumbling at a minidisc recorder. But if that was all he could do, there’d be no OK Computer.

  20. @BiND

    Chicken and egg situation I fear. A lot of help is easier to access with accommodation, but people with those problems can struggle to deal with accommodation (particularly if there are rules on alcohol, violence trashing the place, having people over).

  21. The Thought Gang,

    I’m not saying it’ll be great. I’m saying that at the most basic level – getting a song out, getting it into a global space, is something anyone can do for almost nothing.

    If someone wrote something as good as Yesterday and recorded it with Garageband, it would still work.

  22. Music prices have gone down not merely because the technology is cheaper, but because that technology allows good old music to compete directly with good new music. Instead of disappearing off the shelves after a few weeks and only surfacing now and again in second-hand record shops, good old music is just as readily available as new music. If I want to hear The Best of Lindisfarne from 1989 — and what a good album that is! — I can; I no longer have to put up with what record shop managers think will sell this week.

  23. Regards the rough sleepers, I reckon it’s a failure of imagination that puts them into standard accomodation, whether that is hostel or council flats. They trash the place, they are a fire risk, and they fail to meet requirements on behaviour, cleanliness, and sobriety. What is needed is purpose built, vandal-proof accomodation units. Very basic, built-in bed, loo, shower, and maybe ducts for warm air heating and ventilation. Plastic mattress. Secure so the occupants are safe from incursions from eachother. Soundproof. Basically something you can hose down and disinfect, and capable of containing a fire. Some minimal warden oversight, but you have to accept they will be taking drugs in there, because if you stop them they will head back to the streets.

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