Recently, a good friend of mine who also happens to be a musician, criticized me for being a subscriber to Spotify. I can’t say that I fall into the majority of Spotify listeners, but I want to defend my choice to listen to Spotify on behalf of him and all independent musicians.
I understand that the number of “plays” on Spotify only amounts to pennies per listen for musicians (so I do understand where my friend is coming from). However, it is the very largest database of independent musicians out there where you can listen to the entire album of a particular artist before making a decision to purchase their songs, and it has introduced me to very similar musicians I’ve never heard of based on what I enter into the search criteria (and way more accurately than last.fm or Pandora).
The best example I can give is The Black Angels. I’d never heard of them before I searched the “Related Artists” section of Radio Moscow. I was introduced to Radio Moscow through the collective iTunes folders at my last job and when I searched for additional Radio Moscow albums I wasn’t familiar with, the “Related Artists” section pointed me to The Black Angels. I actually loved Black Angels (they are now my favorite current band) much more than Radio Moscow (which is saying a LOT, because I’d travel 6 hours to Kansas City see Radio Moscow!!) Not only did I end up purchasing everything Black Angels ever produced, I have also paid for concert tickets to see them in Chicago with Spindrift (I’ve also purchased all of their albums) & I hope to be healthy enough to see the Black Angels again with the release of their new album this spring. (I also purchased entire albums of Radio Moscow, Bowerbirds, Lumineers, Foster the People, Devil Makes Three, Gary Clark, Jr., White Rabbits, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Divine Fits & others based on either radio exposure to a song or two and/or bands who performed at Lollapalooza 2012, just because their albums were so solid on Spotify.)
I have also used Spotify to hone my choices in purchasing music where I am infatuated with a song or two, but the rest of the album is lame (in my opinion). Again, I introduce Florence + the Machine’s and also the Wallflower’s 2012 albums. For those two artists, I only liked a couple of songs. I purchased the songs I liked, but not the entire albums in those cases. I *would* have been tempted to purchase those two artists’ albums over other lesser known artists solely based on prior releases. Ultimately, I would have wasted my money. I only purchased one of Wallflowers and also two of Flo’s songs at $1.29 each, based on my listens at Spotify where none of their other songs grew on me, despite repeated listens.
In a nutshell, I am a music-a-holic. I LOVE music and would much rather have music playing than talk radio or television. I’ve been a member of Spotify for a year and a half & about 95% of the music I’ve purchased and the concerts within that timeframe that I’ve attended are a direct result of Spotify.
In other words, I will continue listening to Spotify without shame. If I like an artist or a band and I truly believe in their music, I will purchase their songs and/or full albums, regardless of their exposure on Spotify. Spotify just happens to open doors I wasn’t even expecting to approach. If you also subscribe to Spotify, I would like encourage you to click on the “related artists” tab and follow your friends’ favorite musicians to open your world to new sounds. Then, if you truly love a song, or an album, I also urge you to purchase a download or entire album of those artists no matter their top 40 hits status.