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 us 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.