Supporting Artists on Spotify

My friend and I just finished recording the new Twin Cities EP, “The Past Four Months.” During that process, Will introduced me to a songwriter named Keaton Henson by showing me a video of Henson performing “Lying To You.” If you haven’t heard the song, it’s a really beautiful song about heartbreak, so it’s totally the kind of song I love. Needless to say, I was stoked to check out the entire album.

Until a month ago, I had been vehemently against Spotify because artists don’t make much money off of the site. Almost everyone knows artists are estimated to get $0.0029 per song, which is unarguably awful pay. After actually listening to Spotify, I’ve found my opinion on its usage has changed. Now, it’s my go-to spot for checking out new albums.

I bring my laptop to work with me everyday, so I can listen to music while I work. As I ran late to work one day, I forgot to grab my laptop. I’m the type of person that needs to have something going on in the background at all times, so I created a Spotify account that day. Most of the day, I listened to the same bands that are on my iTunes, and I checked out a couple of bands I had recently heard about. The majority of the new music was complete crap. I also checked out some bands that I like, but only had listened to one of their albums. At the end of the first day of Spotify, I bought “Change” by The Dismemberment Plan. I’ve loved the band for years, but I only owned “Emergency and I.”

The next day, I made the choice not to bring my laptop to work. I had the exact same music available because of Spotify, and I was (to a very, very small degree) paying artists again for albums that I bought years ago and loved. Death Cab and Kind of Like Spitting probably made a whole $0.04 off of me that day. Snowing made $5 off of me that day when I relistened to one of their EPs and decided to buy it.

Spotify’s vast library of music caused me to buy new music two days in a row, which is not something that I would normally do. For the most part, I’ve always owned the albums that I like, and I occasionally would check out a first listen on NPR. Rarely do I like any album enough to buy it. Spotify opened up a lot of music to me quickly that I would usually never check out. The bands that I don’t like make a miniscule amount of money from my listens that they would otherwise never receive. The bands I do like are getting repeated listens (maybe they’ll make a dollar off of me on Spotify), I’ll still buy their album if I like it enough. That is a chance the bands would have never had before.

Spotify Premium is the true evil of the Spotify organization. Advertisements are everywhere, and by paying $10 a month you don’t have to hear them mid-album. Is giving $10 a month to an organization that doesn’t support the artists really worth it? Instead of putting the money into Spotify, give the money to the band by buying their album on iTunes. It won’t affect you much, but you’ll be supporting bands that can always use help.

When was the last time you bought an album? If you can’t answer that, I think that is a bad sign for the arts. I realize that not everyone has the income to support buying a new album every week. If you have the money to buy an album though, buy the music you found via iTunes or Bandcamp that you first listened to on Spotify. You’ll have the album on your iPod, and you can continue to support the artist with extremely small payments via streaming.