From Pirate to Spotifile: A Look at the Benefits of Spotify

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There is a lot of controversy surrounding Spotify, with many commentators claiming that it is a negative development for the music industry.  Critics argue that it supports the habit of not purchasing artists’ music directly.  I’m here to tell you that Spotify is not only awesome for casual music lovers, but it is actually good for the music industry.

Spotify is a music service that offers digitally restricted streaming of music from a range of record labels.  Each time a song is played on Spotify, the played artist earns a royalty from it.  Also, Spotify keeps track of the music that is being played, so labels and artists have access to in-depth reporting.  Spotify reached 15 million users in 2012, four million of whom are paying members, and one of whom is me.

According to an analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation, global music piracy causes $12.2 billion of economic losses every year.  Spotify might just be the solution that brings that number down.

Because streaming a song off of Spotify is fundamentally as easy as torrenting or downloading a song illegally, more and more people are converting, giving the content creators their rightful compensation.

D.A. Wallach, lead singer of synth-pop group Chester French (seriously…check it out below) and “Artist in Residence” at Spotify, feels that Spotify is instrumental in preventing music pirating.  Wallach is an “incessant” Spotify user as well as a featured artist.

“I really do [believe that Spotify is an effective antidote to the illegal downloading issue],” said Wallach.  “If you look at Sweden, where Spotify is most popular, the service has migrated an entire culture away from piracy. Our belief is that if you want consumers to stop pirating, you have to give them something better than piracy. Spotify truly is a better music discovery, listening, and collecting experience than piracy, so I and millions of others have found it worth paying to use.”

Ideally, people would pay for their albums directly from the artists.  However, that’s just not the world that we live in anymore.  That ship has sailed, following in the path of CDs, 8-track tapes, and vinyl records.  Anyone still trying to argue that is having a reminiscent conversation about a different time, not offering a relevant or realistic solution to a problem.

Not only is Spotify providing revenue for the artists, but it is also providing exposure.  Spotify playlists, the “Similar Artists” tab, and even the ads all help to bring in new fans and solidify current ones.  This may inspire them to go to a show or buy a t-shirt, both of which put money directly in the artists’ pocket.  They may not be inspired to do that if they hadn’t been able to easily access the music.

According to the National Purchase Diary, 38% of Spotify users report buying a song downloaded in the last three months, compared to the mere 17% for non-Spotify-users.

“I have always wanted our fans to be able to connect with us personally,” said Wallach.  “Spotify has become a very special platform through which thousands of artists and I are able to speak to our audiences through music. Not only are folks able to hear my recordings, but also they can check out the music that I’m listening to or that I’ve collected into playlists. Of course, I also earn income from Spotify based upon the amount of my work that people consume.”

One concern that always arises when talking to industry professionals about Spotify is the sound quality issue.  For casual consumers, this may not be a problem.  However, for die-hard audiophiles (myself included), sound quality is something that needs to be taken into account.  Though streaming through Spotify is admittedly not as clear as in some other formats, the quality is still decent enough to properly represent the artists.  If you won’t take my word for it, take it from an artist who has their work up on Spotify.

“I personally still love the way that Vinyl records sound,” said Wallach.  “And I love CDs as well. Spotify’s sound quality is great, but as bandwidth infrastructure improves I believe that it will get even better. As it stands, I am certainly happy for listeners to hear my own music on Spotify.”

So there you have it.  Spotify is a positive development for the music industry and, hopefully, one that is here to stay and breed a generation of recovering music pirates. My name is Emily McBride, and I have not stolen a single song since I became a “Spotifile.”

Emily is an over-enthusiastic lover of music, books, movies, fashion, and culture in general. Her love of music spans across all genres (what is a genre anymore? she waxes poetic to herself), though she was nursed on true punk and will never understand “redneck country” music – tractors are not and cannot be sexy. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and considers herself to be a great wit, though she is still waiting on validation from a credible source.


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