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On Music and Spotify

Music, Vinyl, Spotify

I used to buy a couple of new albums a month on average. It was a lot of money. Some $240/year. But then I switched to Spotify 3 years ago. Cut that in half to $120/year. So for 3 years I’ve paid some $360 instead of $720. But looking back at the albums I've played the most over the last 3 years, I find some dozen or so. My favorite artists (Red, Thousand Foot Krutch, Demon Hunter, and others) have released a couple albums that I’ve listened to a ton. I’ve gained a few new favorite artists in The Civil Wars (who’ve since broke up), Mumford & Sons, and All Sons & Daughters. But only a dozen or so albums have been added to my regularly played lists.

A dozen albums means I've only gained some $100 in music and ripped off the other artists that I’ve played a few times.

Ripped off? The average artist makes less than a cent per stream on Spotify. Demon Hunter has seen a lot of my money, but artists that I’ve only played once or twice has seen next to nothing. I’ve gotten more value than I’ve given to them. When you buy an album in iTunes, the artist sees between 10 and 50% of the money. You’d have to stream a song some 30 times to pay the artist as much as the purchase in iTunes would pay them.

And then there is the value you perceive in the music you play. In the last 3 years I’ve played a lot of music. But because it hasn’t cost me a visible price tag, it is of little value to me. If I play an album once or 10 times it makes no difference. But the work of an artist holds value. They make their music because they enjoy it, sure, but they also do it to pay the bills.

So what does this mean? Well, I’m moving back into buying music. My wife got me a record player for Christmas. It was on my list. A lot of my friends are shocked at how analog it is for me. But that’s kind of the point. And so with it I got 2 new albums, though one hasn’t arrived yet. Most new release records come with digital downloads, for those of you not in the know. And then I bought the newest The Civil Wars album and a couple of Elvis albums. So far I have 5 or 6 records. So I sit at my desk in the evening and throw a record on. It’s rather nice.

But what about when I’m out and about. Well, I own a ton of music on iTunes. From 2004–2011 I purchased music through iTunes. Apple has a program called iTunes Match that will go through your music and find anything not bought through iTunes and upgrade the files to a better quality and keep them in iCloud. So those new records of mine? Yeah, I just import them into my library and iTunes Match will make them available for streaming on my iPhone and iPad. For $25/year.

So I’ll be moving over to iTunes again over the next month and cutting Spotify. This’ll save me $95/year in reoccuring cost and allow me to buy music that I value enough to buy.

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