Don’t Use Streaming Services
Lol, I made this blog to just follow random streaming charts, but on the occasion streaming services are in the news I may add a little commentary, which is what’s happening here today! Enjoy, I guess maybe!
- Billboard, our merciful chart gods, decided to try and curve major labels finessing their way onto the album charts. Since 2014, Billboard has counted 1500 streams of a song as equal to an album sale. Major labels upon realizing this started to put out compilations like Epic AF, which just collected popular songs released on Epic Records that weren’t yet on an album so those streams could go towards the song, but also an album. Except that these albums functioned closer to playlists in that the track listing would change that there was no way to digitally or psychically by the album. Major labels hustling the Billboard charts is nothing new, but the issue is that these “albums” weren’t albums and were in fact simply just playlists in the guise of an album and the correct worry is that labels could essentially just swap out songs from these playlists to keep these collections on the charts. Billboard’s update now made it so these compilations can only chart through actual album sales or TEA (Track Equivalent Album) units, so these streaming only compilation are effectively no longer going to be able to chart.
- Personally this is a good thing to me, because these collections weren’t albums, but playlists and saying a playlist is the #12 album is the country undercuts the value of an album. Then one step further the #1 album in country is essentially just whatever is Spotify’s most popular playlist, which maybe that should be it’s own chart…But, while I’ll give prop to fixing this problem, the concept of SEA (Steam Equivalent Album) is still wrecking havoc on the normal Billboard 200 chart. Post Malone, whose actual album sell worse than concrete donuts is still in the Top 10 this week, because of the massive streaming success of “Congratulations.” Back in the day sold on the strength of a single song and this just an update of that fact. Except for the fact the passivity and lack of effort put into streaming versus buying an album makes such equivalency fairly hollow to myself. Now of course I’m sure Billboard didn’t randomly get 1500 streams, but as the music industry rushes to further devalue music, this was a nice little story of some push back of ceding all power to streaming platforms.
Spotify Trials Allowing Labels To Pay For Songs To Feature On Popular Playlists — Fader
- I’ll be honest this headline made me chuckle. The only reason is because major labels so dominate Spotify playlists and the music being promoted that another layers of ads felt fairly minor. My poor analogy was thinking of someone being upset that McDonalds sneaked McNuggets into their Big Mac ads. Spotify’s front page and playlists should all have giant banners that say Advertisement, so another ad being thrown in there feels nearly minor. Now headlines forthis story as it circulated across the web saw screams of “Payola,” but as Andréa López said:
- This contextualized it for me in a way that was slightly less alarmist. The reason I’m taking a more cooled term to this news is that this only effects those that use Spotify for free and that these songs are going to be slotted into personal playlists not the major ones you see. Now again as a person that’s accepts ads paying for a service that doesn’t bother me, but the fact none of these songs are marked as advertising is troubling, when Spotify entire ecosystem is already so heavily controlled by major label pushing certain music in your ears. Now this isn’t to discredit screams of pay-for-play, but when remembering that’s always Spotify’s game here another layer of have-and-have-nots only highlights the service’s broken core.
- A couple weeks back Liz Pelly mentioned to me she was working on a piece about Spotify, but I didn’t know she was going this deep into it, cause goddamn goddamn this is impressive. I won’t restate much of it, because people should just read it, but I wanted to make one quick point.
- Pelly’s article focused on major label collusion with Spotify, which is bad, but towards the end she gets to the real issue with these companies: Fundamentally Spotify doesn’t care about music. The only thing they care about is hook you in as a subscriber and getting you to pay them every month. No amount of lip services means they care about supporting smaller acts or helping with sustaining the careers of artists. People have rightly for years complained about major labels, but Spotify and all these streaming services take that one step further, because as Liz wrote: This is why, now, if you search for an artist’s name of Spotify, the “Search” feature will deliver you a Spotify-curated, saturated-cover playlist anthology of that artist’s work (for example “This is: Lorde”) and other playlists they’re on before it will show you their most popular album.
- A minor detail, but it shows Spotify’s end game here. It’s training listeners not to seek out an artist’s work of art, but instead to find Spotify’s version of the that artist’s work. They’re counting on listeners becoming so decontextualized from music that music just becomes simply background noise. Effectively they’re turning art into audio coffee shop static. Spotify is a big champion of chill music, because music to Spotify doesn’t exist for creative expression, but instead mental sedation.