In regards to the Spotify statement today … it was a great response.
Their interests are clearly aligned with every artist and songwriter. Spotify is without a doubt preventing people from illegally downloading music. And more than anything, they are making us think about how streaming is effecting our perception of art.
With all that said, I have a problem with everyone looking at Spotify as either the problem or the solution. The issue is much bigger. It is about how we perceive art. All art. From music, to cinema, to photography, to paintings, and so on … the internet is making art more accessible than ever.
While accessibility is great for spreading knowledge, the beauty of art is in its scarcity. The most valuable pieces of art are one of a kind.
Wu-Tang recently proved this with their new album which only has one physical copy. They announced that just 51 seconds are available online, you can pay to go to a museum to listen in person, or you can try to bid for the one physical copy. Within days of that statement, the group was offered $5 million dollars. Scarcity is what makes art valuable.
Spotify was founded in 2008.
Do you know what else happened that year? Netflix announced their unlimited video streaming service.
2008 was the year we decided art shouldn’t be scarce, it should be cheap and easily attainable. We as consumers felt guilty enough for illegally sharing art throughout the early 2000s and decided we would pay a tiny amount for legal access to everything. The concept is great for us. For the price of buying just one album per month, you can have 24/7 access to any album that was ever created. Same for Netflix. Why drive to a video store to pay $5 to rent a movie for one night, when you can pay $7 and rent thousands of movies from anywhere? You wouldn’t.
So kudos to Spotify and Netflix because they figured out the perfect answer. Just get people to pay a tiny amount so it’s not illegal, but give them access to everything you can. Right? Wrong.
They took the first step in saying we need to compensate artists anytime we view their art. But we can’t pay $20 a month and have access to all forms of art whenever we want. The quality of art will diminish. Marketing, and not the actual art, will determine someone’s success. And we will be flooded with mindless crap.
Instead, we need to stand up for the art we believe in. The art that touches your soul. Evokes an emotion. Makes you feel alive. That is the art we want the world to see, and it will only be seen if we spend our time and money to get it there.
You can continue to spend $20 a month to access Spotify and Netflix whenever, but next time your favorite artist drops an album, BUY it. When your favorite actor is in a movie, go see it in a theater. When you come across a comedian who makes you laugh, recommend him to your friends. Don’t just spectate, interact and get involved.
We have the power to preserve art for generations to come. It’s not just up to Spotify, iTunes, Netflix, etc. We can make a difference.