I have mixed ethical feelings about the immensely popular music streaming service Spotify. While streaming services in general seem like a pretty reliable method to ensure that an artist never has enough money to eat or do laundry on the road, Spotify’s percentage that goes to the artists making the music that enables its existence is particularly harrowing. Seriously, if 50,000 people listen to a Wilco song, I’m pretty sure Jeff Tweedy just gets his lunch at Subway paid for or something.
In reading that introductory paragraph to myself, I just realized that I don’t actually have mixed ethical feelings when it comes to Spotify at all–it’s fucking disgusting. My mixed feelings are all derived from how much I hate myself for loving the service itself so much. You’d better believe I pay that sweet $9.99 per month for the convenience of listening to just about anything I could ever want to at any given time. It’s an easy way to access virtually any song or album in my own collection while I’m at work, in the car, or jogging. (I made that last part up sooo hard!) Spotify even politely notifies me when artists I’m following have new releases available to me, which is extremely handy when you dip from many musical wells like I do.
It was 7:00 AM on Tuesday, October 27 of this very year when Spotify kindly nudged me on the shoulder to get out of bed and go to work so it could continue its heinous crimes against artistry on my dime. It accomplished this feat by letting me know that if I did, I sure could listen to Purple, the newest album by southern metal superheros Baroness once I arrived at my den of labor. This very announcement brightened my morning immensely; I never feel awake until three hours after I actually, technically reach awake status, and Baroness’ Yellow & Green double album was among my very favorite things released in 2012.
Let’s fast-forward to about 8:26 AM. With pleasantries to my co-workers out of the way, I shoved my earbuds into my hear-holes ready to hear the dirty, powerful sounds that inspired my crush on Baroness in the first place. Having already heard the advance track “Chlorine and Wine,” I was eager to know what would come next, and I hadn’t expected to be able to do so until December 18, the album’s announced release date.
I assumed at this juncture that the band had simply decided it was time to give its fans an early Halloween present and release the album almost two months early. That would have been awfully unorthodox, sure, but music releases are far more fluid in the streaming age than they ever were when I was asking my mom to drive me to CD Warehouse a decade-and-a-half ago. I mean I had a goddamned email from the hulking crusher of souls itself telling me that I could listen to this thing whenever I pleased! I was king of the world.
So imagine my surprise when, with my earbuds jammed into my brain, I heard nothing at all. I clicked on Purple only to be redirected back to the main Baroness artist page. I did this about four times until my raw anger forced me to write down medical record request information really fucking hard and then consult Google to see if this was a common issue. It turned out that it sure was, and that the album was listed by accident. I would have to wait until December 18 to hear Purple, just like the rest of the serfs I know.
Fuck you, Spotify! I pay like 30 cents a day to listen to an unlimited amount of whatever I want at any time; how could you commit this jaw-dropping injustice?! How dare you briefly sort of inconvenience my expectations by giving me something I ethically have no right to possess in the first place (that you didn’t actually give me at all) and then taking it away instantly!
The mighty one does as it pleases, demolishing daydreams and scorching the surface of a man’s fragile earth. It’s a dark world out there, guys.