The Baffler:

Spotify specifically wants to be seen as a mood-boosting platform. In Spotify for Brands blog posts, the company routinely emphasizes how its own platform distinguishes itself from other streams of digital content, particularly because it gives marketers a chance to reach users through a medium that is widely seen as a “positive enhancer”: a medium they turn to for “music to help them get through the less desirable moments in their day, improve the more positive ones and even discover new things about their personality,” says Spotify. […]

In appealing to advertisers, Spotify also celebrates its position as a background experience and in particular how this benefits advertisers and brands. Jorge Espinel, who was Head of Global Business Development at Spotify for five years, once said in an interview: “We love to be a background experience. You’re competing for consumer attention. Everyone is fighting for the foreground. We have the ability to fight for the background. And really no one is there. You’re doing your email, you’re doing your social network, etcetera.” In other words, it is in advertisers’ best interests that Spotify stays a background experience.

The goal of Spotify (or Netflix, for what matters) is for you to always be streaming.

Spotify, like Netflix, wants you to stream. That’s the point of a streaming service. To achieve that both platforms do two things: they make sure that the system nudges you into endless streaming (e.g. by auto-playing episodes) and they produce content which streams well.

The Baffler argues that there is now a new type of music, part of a new kind of genre (they call it streambait pop), which basically satisfies the demands of this kind of consumption and produces songs which flow, songs that work well in the background, lyrics which you can always be listening to without really noticing them.

The Spotify sound has a few different variations, but essentially it’s a formula. “It has this soft, emo-y, cutesy thing to it,” Matt says. “These days it’s often really minimal and based around just a few simple elements in verses. Often a snap in the verses. And then the choruses sometimes employ vocal samples. It’s usually kind of emo in lyrical nature.” Then there’s also a more electronic, DJ-oriented variation, which is “based around a drop . . . It’s usually a chilled-out verse with a kind of coo-y vocal. And then it builds up and there’s a drop built around a melody that’s played with a vocal sample.”

The formula wants the content to be atomic, to work well on its own. Its context is the playlist:

“It’s disposable AF. It’s too disposable. New Music Friday has seventy-plus songs every week. Who is actually supposed to hang on to any of those songs? There’s too much!” This is a symptom of the attention-driven platform economy as well: the churning stomach of the content machine constantly demands new stuff. In such an economy, music that doesn’t take off is dropped once it has outlived its usefulness—either as a brand prop or as playlist-filler.


Le critiche alla ‘sostenibilità’ di Spotify e altri servizi di streaming rispuntano con frequente cadenza. Spesso si parla di microguadagni, o stream di centesimi per gli artisti, ma come un articolo su Medium fa notare il problema — più che Spotify — è legato all’industria discografica, alle etichette discografiche e a come, semplicemente, gli artisti non siano proprietari della loro musica:

The reason artists don’t get paid from streaming services is that they don’t own the music that they record. Spotify isn’t holding on to that money! They don’t have some Scrooge McDuck money-swimming-pool in the basement of their Manhattan digs. They are legally required to pay money to the rights holders, and they do!

The best part is that the labels are part-owners of the streaming services. When Spotify is acquired, the labels are gonna make a boatload of money (they all have shares in the company), and not a dime is getting passed on to the artists (nor should it).

Relativo: È incredibile che l’industria discografica sia mai esistita.

Spotify è un ottimo servizio per l’utente, lo è un po’ di meno per chi la musica la fa:

From 78 r.p.m. records to the age of iTunes, artists’ record royalties have been counted as a percentage of a sale price. On a 99-cent download, a typical artist may earn 7 to 10 cents after deductions for the retailer, the record company and the songwriter, music executives say. One industry joke calls the flow of these royalties a “river of nickels.” In the new economics of streaming music, however, the river of nickels looks more like a torrent of micropennies.

Lo scorso novembre Pitchfork ospitava il racconto di una band su come le royalties pagate loro da Spotify fossero ridicole: $0.005 per riproduzione (la cifra varia da artista a artista, e spesso è opaca). Da un loro album hanno guadagnato $9.18 con 5,960 riproduzioni.