9 The Michigan Daily - michiganclaily.com
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 7A
FROM TH[ FILTE L
Spotify destined to
dominate mar et
streaming service s
By KENDALL RUSS
Daily Online Arts Editor
I was cooking dinner a cou-
ple of nights ago and asked my
friend to put on some music.
After a few songs, the dreaded
Spotify jingle came on, and a
female voice advertised Spotify
Premium with the service's most
You'll never have to buy music
Ididn't drop my hurnt chick-
en in disbelief, hut the ad made
me think: Should music he free?
Though we may, from time to
time, ardently oppose piracy
out of principle, I'm inclined to Power stance.
think that most of us, given the
chance, wouldn't hesitate to musicians financially.
consume all the music we want At this point, Spotify hardly
for as little as possible. It's an dominates, with around 2.5-mil-
unsettling conclusion, but it lion Premium paid subscribers
seems to be an embedded char- (or about two percent of the glob-
acteristic of my generation. al market for online music listen-
I was only 6 when Napster ing, according to Forbes). Though
spawned a new era of music the sales of physical media have
consumption by offering free declined precipitously since Nap-
and unlimited file sharing. I've ster's inception in 1999, a recent
grown up with a kind of hard- Nielsen study showed people
wired reluctance toward paying bought more CDs than complete
for music, and it's not because digital albums in 2012. Vinyl
I don't respect the hard work sales continue to soar at a record
musicians put in. It's simply pace. Spotify currently threatens
that, because of how perva- streaming services like Pandora
sive file sharing is, I've never more than actual artist revenues;
found downloading music to be the Nielsen report showed over-
morally or legally wrong. And all music purchases were at an
I don't think I'm alone. When all-time high in 2012.
Radiohead enacted a pay-what- But Ek's vision could, if ful-
you-want method for 2007's filled, prove harmful to the music
remarkable In Rainbows, more industry. Digital music's steady
people downloaded it for free progression has driven the recent
than paid, and even more ille- increase in music purchasing,
gally downloaded a torrent - with digital album sales rising
despite the readily available free from 5.5 percent in 2006 to 37
and legal option. percent in 2012 of all album sales.
This oddity reflects a deep- Spotify targets this exact mar-
seeded characteristic of the ket - instead of paying for songs
Internet age: People don't want or albums on iTunes and listen-
to pay for information - music ing on an iPod, you can listen to
or otherwise - if it's already anything at all for the cost of one
available online. Hell, they album per month. If it contin-
don't even care if it's legal. ues its meteoric growth, Spotify
Between the hacktivist group will likely replace iTunes as the
Anonymous, WikiLeaks and the digital music service by this con-
late Reddit co-founder Aaron venience alone. However, this
Swartz, extensive efforts have prospect is troublesome, since
been made to eliminate copy- the current shift from physical
right laws and provide the free to digital media already leads to
and unhindered dissemination lower artist revenues. For a $0.99
of information. While free infor- download on iTunes, artist and
mation makes sense in certain label revenues come out to about
domains, like medicine, free and 70 cents; on Spotify, the payout is
unhindered piracy is particu- 1/140 of that.
larly pernicious to music. Musi- Ek strives to establish Spo-
cians make their money off of tify as the universal music plat-
royalties; when someone illegal- form, as the Google or Amazon
ly downloads a song or album, no of music. He wants to rebuild
one gets paid. the music industry, which he
Enter: Spotify. The Swedish believes will be entirely digital
company, headed by the unre- in about two years. Instead of
mitting 30-year-old Daniel Ek, huge initial sales when records
provides an alternative to piracy are released and eventual phase
by paying artists on a per-play out, artists can still be paid for
basis, even if these plays come old albums. Can't get your hands
from non-paying subscribers. on an old Talking Heads album?
It's the ultimate convenience No problem; stream away on
- for $9.99 a month, you get Spotify! His ambition, and the
unlimited, ad-free access to a company's exponential growth,
massive music library from any recently landed him on the cover
electronic device. Spotify Pre- of Forbes, which anointed him
S mium might not be free, but it's a "The Most Important Man in
cheap way to feel guiltless about Music." Well, perhaps. His plan
devouring all the music in the will likely revolutionize the
entire universe. music business as paid stream-
To make it work, Ek and inves- ing services continue to replace
tors provide substantial capital paid digital downloading, but the
to cover the exorbitant costs of miserably low payouts that art-
royalties and music licenses from ists receive hardly cast him as a
major labels, and Spotify has savior. Though his model is unbe-
even staked out 20 percent of its lievably convenient for music
shares to the four largest music consumers, it offers next to noth-
labels. In exchange, you get to lis- ing for the music suppliers.
ten to 20-million songs as many if Spotify indeed becomes
times as you want for about the the sole music provider - what
cost of a CD every month. And then? What if it does secure a
the musicians you're listening to dominant majority of the global
get paid! Sounds great, right? music streaming population,
Well, it turns out that Spo- becoming as entrenched in our
tify pays like shit - for most lexicon as "Google" or "Face-
musicians, a whopping $0.005 book," and music labels can't
per play. That means a solo art- afford to miss out? What if the
ist would need to reach over leverage shifts from the labels
260,000 plays every month just to to Spotify itself, and labels can't
make the U.S. monthly minimum afford to demand higher royal-
wage of $1,200. That's simple ties or licensing costs? And what
enough for someone like Adele, if it supplants iTunes as the
but what about the little guys? only legal platform for buying
Such a meager rate risks crowd- access to music? Those 10 bucks
ing out less popular musicians a month start to look less like a
because it cheap cover charge for unlim-
can't ade- First seen on ited music and more like the
quately -the filter predominant source of artists'
provide for meager salaries.
I have a lot of feels.
Maybe I'm unduly pessimistic
about this. Maybe rival stream-
ing services, like upcoming prod-
ucts from Google and Apple, will
prevent Spotify from attaining a
pseudo-monopoly. Maybe record
labels will flex their muscles and
continue to demand high royal-
ties and licensing costs anyway.
Hell, maybe Spotify will decide
to pay more per play!
Still, I'm not totally con-
vinced. Streaming unlimited
music on your phone, laptop,
tablet, etc. is the future of music
technology, and Spotify is lead-
ing the charge - much like
Apple did for phones and MP3
players. Joe Kennedy, the CEO
of Spotify's chief rival and pre-
decessor, Pandora, unexpect-
edly resigned last week despite
reasonable profits. Apple and
Google will soon release their
own streaming services, but
people are already internalizing
Spotify; the new products would
have to be undeniably better and
distinct, in the way few phones
have challenged the iPhone, for
them to truly dethrone Spotify.
And if no rival seriously com-
petes with Spotify, who can we
reasonably expect to stop its
total control of how we access
and purchase music?
The problem with Spoify's
ambition is that it threatens
to destroy the very industry it
intends to save. The worry lin-
gers that, by revolutionizing
the music business model, Spo-
tify will forsake artists' hard-
earned revenues in pursuit of
its own. While it probably won't
completely eradicate the physi-
cal media market, it likely will
crowd out other digital plat-
forms - which already make
up the majority of music sales.
At 1/140 of the already parceled
payout, though, that's a problem.
Look, I'm not trying to be a
hypocrite. I'm admittedly guilty
of both occasionally using Spo-
tify - for free, I confess - and,
ahem, downloading albums
from file-sharing websites. But if
I really love an album, especially
from one of my favorite bands,
I'll go out and buy it as soon as
possible. If I listen to an album
once and hate it, I'll likely not
listen again. The beauty of Spo-
tify is, by the unlimited access it
grants, bands will still get paid
for that one disdainful listen.
It lets you decide for yourself if
an album is worth your money
and pays artists either way. My
worry is that, if Spotify Premi-
um dominates in the ways I've
outlined, the convenience of
plugging a phone into a speaker
system to listen to an album
will quell the urge to go out and
spend the extra 10 bucks, espe-
cially when you're already pay-
ing to listen to the album ad-free
on your phone. And if that hap-
pens, extremely talented but rel-
atively unknown musicians will
be left in the dust.
People might not stop making
music, but a Spotify-dominated
music world seems, to me, to
ditch the genre-based distinc-
tion and instead casts artists
into two camps: those who make
money, and those who don't.
And that, quite frankly, is unac-
- The original version of this
article was published on The Fil-
ter, the Daily Arts blog, on March
By JACKSON HOWARD
Daily Arts Writer
In 1998, Cam'ron stomped into
the hip-hop world with his debut
Confessions of Fire. Showcasing
hard-hitting East Coast produc-
tion and Cam's trademark whim-
sical wordplay, the album remains
as seminal New York rap music.
To honor his 15 years in the game,
I've pulled out a few of my favor-
ite Cam'ron lyrics (out of literally
hundreds), which blend the most
bizarre things together in a way
that only Cam can. Part kinder-
gartener and part genius, I give
you the one and only Cam'ron.
"I don't care ifyou'reJapanese,
Lebanese, Chinese, Siamesejust
befrom the seven seas" ("Wet
Cam'ron doesn't discrimi-
nate with his women: As long as
they're fine, he pays no attention
to where they're from. I'm just
curious; how on earth did Cam
come up with this assortment of
ethnicities? I understand how you
can relate Japan and China, and
even though Siam no longer exists
as a country, it still falls under
Asia - but Lebanon? When has
Cam'ron visited Lebanon? Fur-
thermore, the seven seas? When
do you ever hear that used outside
of Victorian-era pirate folklore?
"You'llfind them out ofstate/near
a lake, some billy bait/gettin'ate
by apes, deers/ business snakes"
Where to start on this one?
Not only will Cam's haters be
taken out of the state, they will
be thrown out somewhere near
a lake, where, presumably, some
hillbillies will attack them. OK,
that makes some sense. But where
the hell does getting eaten by apes
and deer(s) come in? First off -
the plural of deer is deer. But most
ecosystem are apes and deer liv-
ing in harmony, feasting together?
Finally, "business snakes"just ties
this whole "Hot Mess" together.
k he's referring to shady on his computer, but I know
industry people, but how it can't be 'puting. Even if he's
as to do with apes and deer referring to "computing," which
his haters near a lake is I doubt, there's no way Cam'ron
over my head. is computing anything online.
kingsake on a Suzuki, we in In reality, he probably uses the
a Bay" ("Down and Out") computer to play hours of "The
t, I'd like to congratulate Oregon Trail."
an on the alliteration here. "The biscuit turn you to Bisquick
nds nice. But let's look at mixed with shrimp lo mein"
tual words. Cam describes ("Hot 97 Freestyle")
e in which, while riding a The thought of raw pancake
in Osaka Bay, Japan, he's mix blended with shrimp to
g sake. I'm not sure how mein makes me nauseous. Natu-
anaging to do both of these rally, Cam is referring to his gun
at the same time, not to turning somebody into mush,
an the obvious drinking- and I can appreciate the word-
iving situation here, but play of "biscuit" and "Bisquick,"
s they apparently say in yet I can't understand where
world, "When in Japan... " shrimp lo mein comes in. Is that
supposed to represent organs?
Bones? Chinese food the victim
had before being shot? Or maybe
Cam'ron was just craving some
snakes? shrimp lo mein. We'll never
"Make China stretch like Yao
Ming/ Ching chong chinga-linga:
vyoujudge me, Iget Judge Ciao, meng/I'm bilingual ma"
shot/Now sue me ox, Ijust ("Hey Lady")
nd smile/I'll rape ya child, Cam is saying that he can
won't make the trial" ("Kill make the cocaine (China) stash
'Em") he's selling expand like the Chi-
s one always makes me nese basketball player Yao Ming.
Did Judge Judy really hand However, I'm most interested in
such a harsh and devastat- the latter section of this rhyme.
nishment that Cam wants Cam tries to speak some Chi-
her shot? What on Earth nese and then proudly states
oing in Judge Judy's court "ciao, meng," a double-entendre
y? It makes me uncomfort- of sorts meaning simply "bye"
)w happy Cam'ron is saying yet also referencing chow mein.
will rape a child. Cam, just Ah. Clever. But Cam'ron, first of
ght, but rapingthe prosecu- all, "ciao" is Italian. Secondly,
hild probably won't make just because you said the words
Judy, if she's still alive, give "ching chong chinga-linga" does
z easier sentence. Just say- not mean whatsoever that you
speak Chinese, and it certainly
the boosters boosting, Iget doesn't mean you are bilingual!
'uters 'puting " ("Get 'Em I mean, that doesn't sound like
Girls") Chinese at all.
uess in Cam'ron's mind, Oh, well. There's no use going
ay computers work is by on. Iguess Cam'ronwill alwaysbe
uting." Really, Cam? Just Cam'ron. And I hope it stays that
for a second. When you get way. Here's to another 15 years of
ar computer, do you 'pute? greatness from our generation's
nows what Cam'ron does Confucius.
is he d
... " 'p