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You wouldn’t download a car

The ways we listen to music in this day and age vary greatly. From Spotify and Pandora to the infamous file-sharing websites, there’s no shortage of ways to procure the new Taylor Swift record. But just last week, the country artist turned pop star pulled her most recent album and past work from the music streaming site Spotify.

This was in an attempt to shed light on the issues in Spotify’s compensation of artists. Pandora is guilty of questionable compensation, as well, with a recent article on singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc stating that after 168 million plays on Pandora Internet Radio stations, Blacc only received around $4,000 in royalties for his song with Avicii, “Wake Me Up.”

In fact, based on Spotify’s own estimates, artists earn only $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream via the app. This means many artists work for years on entire albums that might only earn them $0.06 per listen on Spotify. This begs the question: Are internet streaming sites really a much better alternative to illegal media piracy?

Obviously, the utopian answer to all this controversy comes with people deleting Limewire from their computers, blocking The Pirate Bay from their web browsers and only getting their music from sources that adequately compensate the artists whose content they host, i.e., Itunes, Bandcamp and actual record stores. This simply won’t happen though, given that we don’t live in a utopian society, and also because popular music in recent years has gained a connotation of being strictly entertainment as opposed to an art form.

But for some users, “Wake Me Up” isn’t seen as a piece of art, but more as background music to play at a party or a song to fill the dead air on the drive home from work or school. Recently, the rap supergroup Wu-Tang Clan attempted to bring artfulness back into their music by only creating a single copy of their new album and touring it around the world to different venues to be listened through in its entirety, but unfortunately, this sort of focus on art has yet to catch on with the greater public. People’s lack of recognition in pop music as art makes it easier for them to justify torrenting.

Taylor Swift isn’t the only artist dissatisfied with Spotify’s meager compensation of her fellow musicians. Thom Yorke of Atoms For Peace and Radiohead pulled both his solo material, titled “The Eraser,” and his Atoms For Peace project, “AMOK,” from Spotify in protest. Yorke is one of the more outspoken artists against Spotify. Yorke has held interviews where he explains his views on the subject, and he has also tweeted on more than one occasion to the official Spotify account airing his grievances.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thom tweets

Other notable artists to speak out against Spotify are Lauren Ballance, otherwise known as the owner of Merge Records, Chris Manak, the founder of Stones Throw Records and country artist Jason Aldean. The issues these artists take with Spotify and other music streaming sites are legitimate and concern the future of the music community as a whole.

After seeing how much harm Spotify can cause, maybe you’ll try other methods of obtaining music. Obviously, torrenting and illegally downloading music is tantamount to theft, so I don’t endorse it. The parallels that can be drawn between Spotify and Pandora and Limewire and Napster are fairly easy to spot, which makes using this cringe-worthy video of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich anti-advertising for Napster relevant, though, so I’m happy.

Have a fantastic Tuesday.

About Sean McCully

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