It seems the prospect of paying artists more money is about as well received with Daniel Ek as the sight of a wooden stake is for a vampire. It’s hard to come to any other conclusion at this point. Every opportunity Spotify gets, the billionaire refuses to pay more money to the artists who made him what he is today.
The reaction of Spotify to the pandemic told this to anyone who still hadn’t realised. At a time when musicians couldn’t tour, they stuck a donation button on their pages – in the same way a busker in the street might have a bucket or a hat for people to throw their coins into. An unworthy response, if ever there was one.
And now comes their latest wheeze. Spotify have done a deal with Shopify – any relation? – in order to allow artists to sell merchandise directly from their profiles. So in addition to listening to your song, they can now buy your T-shirt, mug or whatever other tat you’re trying to get rid of.
Now, a good idea is a good idea, and this one is very good indeed. The only surprise is why it hasn’t happened before now. But yet again with Spotify, I find myself asking – why does it always seem to be up to everyone but Spotify to fix the problem of artists not being paid properly for what they do?
It’s safe to say the whole of the Ibiza season this year has been pretty much a write-off. That’s two years now of being unable to operate entirely for much of the time. Heaven only knows I wouldn’t like to be the accountants who have to deliver the news about their finances right now.
Which is why this blog finds itself torn on the reopening of Amnesia in Ibiza. The Spanish authorities relaxed the rules to allow venues to open – subject to some restrictions – as of October 8th. However, this came so late in the season that the majority of clubs decided to sit the rest of the season out.
Only a few have opened – and Amnesia is holding both its opening and closing parties within 24 hours of each other as a result. And the lineup is stuffed full of business techno types – the more I look at this, the more it looks like a naked cash grab.
Normally, I’d be mortified at how shameless it is. But in the highly unusual circumstances they find themselves in, I can’t say I blame them for adopting the slogan “go big or go home”. I just wonder how much money they’ll have left after paying the gargantuan fees some of the names on the lineup normally command…
As I write on this Monday morning, it hasn’t been a good weekend over at Glasgow Underground. Some weeks ago, Danny Tenaglia launched a highly selective attack on the record label after discovering they’d released a cover version of his 1998 release of “Music Is The Answer”.
His comments were made on August 18th and nothing else was mentioned by anyone since – until Saturday, when Glasgow Underground posted a rant on their Facebook page after “getting a bit of stick recently for being a ‘covers label’… this is for anyone who thought about joining Danny Tenaglia in his hate campaign against us – choose love instead!”.
Quite why it took them 52 days to respond is unknown. And yesterday, T. Markakis – who has released music via the label before – posted this…
At the time of publishing, no reply has been received by Markakis or Amateur’s House about the above comments. Either way, I get the feeling this isn’t how label owner Kevin McKay wants to start the new week…
Update – since this article was published, Kevin McKay of Glasgow Underground have sent Amateur’s House the following statement, reproduced here in full.
“I have read all of Tasos Markakis allegations, and none of them is true. We have released two of his tracks. One of them was successful, the other less so. In his demo for the second track, he used an Acappella from Candi Staton. Unlike his label, Little Jack, we do not use other label recordings in our releases. Instead, we recreate any vocals that we use. The recreation cost £500. Tasos share of that cost was £250. Recording costs are a recoupable expense. We deducted those from his royalty statement along with mastering costs (a very reasonable £59 per track).
Tasos did not understand his recording contract and is angry that we took these deductions. He has claimed he has lawyers who back him up. I have asked to speak to them to have a reasonable discussion about this, but he has, so far, not put me in touch. I have just completed his latest statement run, and we owe him over £500 from his releases.
However, we are now taking advice about his libellous comments and the hate and mistrust in Glasgow Underground that they have generated. I will happily share our communication with him so that everyone can see that we have operated correctly. We regularly send statements and pay our artists as hundreds of Glasgow Underground producers can testify.
I hope Tasos will get some help for his anger and some education in the music business. I hope he stops bootlegging other artists on his label. I urge the people who have supported him here to ask him for evidence of his claims or speak with me directly so they can retract their equally libellous statements.”
Much of the music press today is trying to pretend that the industry they cover is serious about changing its ways. This blog, of course, sees through their lies on the subject – the difference being I have no hesitation whatsoever in calling it out.
YouTube have announced that two channels on their site relating to convicted sex trafficker Robert Sylvester Kelly have been deleted. However, what they haven’t done is banned his music from the platform entirely. Which completely defeats the point of taking down those two channels in the first place.
The simple truth is that YouTube is a private company. If they don’t want to host R Kelly’s music, they’re under no obligation to. But they’re trying to have their cake and eat it here – all they’re doing by removing two verified channels is their own name from the process. In the meantime, they can continue to pretend that uploads of his music by site users – i.e. unofficial uploads – have nothing to do with them.
Either you’re prepared to host his music or you’re not. There’s no middle ground here – it’s a binary choice. And YouTube’s choice is to insult its viewers intelligence by saying they won’t upload his music in an official capacity – but will allow users to do so, inevitably allowing monetisation of those videos in the process.
They must think the public are morons. Fortunately for them, a fair few journalists who cover the industry are precisely that…
When festivals and clubland went into a sort of forced hiatus last year, a lot of soul searching started to take place. This isn’t something which comes easily to the people who run the scene. They’re so fixated on whatever’s coming up next that the idea of reflection is practically anaethema to them. So when people started to notice that festivals in particular were filled with rich, white men, they promised to change.
The promise to change, of course, meant as much as a promise from a violent husband to his battered wife, worried she’s about to leave him. He has no intention of following through with his empty words – and the festival bosses are exactly the same. As I wrote recently, the rich white men are the ones paying their bills right now – and neither has any intention of moving aside for anyone.
I wrote recently about the Isle of Wight Festival 2022 and pointed out almost no women were on the bill. And now, Annabel Ross – a journalist who helped bring allegations of sexual abuse by Derrick May to a wider audience – has been “crunching the numbers”, as she puts it, over the Electric Daisy Festival, due to take place in Las Vegas later this month. It’s worth reading her four-tweet thread on the subject for context. She doesn’t hold back…
I just crunched the numbers on the Electric Daisy Carnival lineup so that you don't have to. By my count, 285 artists are appearing over the three day event. Of those 285, 23 are women, 9 are Black and 15 are NBPOC (non-Black people of colour). pic.twitter.com/aZYcQWEaCG
She’s right, though. 285 acts, 23 women and just 24 acts who aren’t white. For a scene which was founded largely by black gay men in the likes of Chicago and Detroit, that is an utterly depressing indictment of where things are today.
It’s hard to escape the feeling that the dance music world has been utterly colonised…
Nearly one year ago to the day, DJ Rebekah launched a campaign called #ForTheMusic. The idea was simple. It was to fight against sexual harassment and assault in the world of dance music. And she was going to be the figurehead helping bring about real change to a scene that desperately needs it.
But nothing much happened with this campaign. Rebekah mentioned it a few times and then appears to have forgotten it existed. Indeed, the campaign’s Instagram account has not published anything since February. Exactly why the DJ appears to have lost interest in the campaign she started in a blaze of publicity isn’t clear.
So when I discovered earlier today, courtesy of Michael James, that DJ Rebekah is now working with Francesco Tristano, I was disheartened but not entirely surprised. The business techno world that these two inhabit is all about money and being seen with the “right” people.
And what’s problematic about working with Tristano? Well, he’s collaborated with Derrick May in the past – but this gets worse. You see, he effectively helped cover up the fact May cannot play the piano. Tristano travelled with Derrick May to perform orchestral versions of his music.
May would have had to make such an admission to him at some point, yet Tristano was still happy enough to use May’s name to make one for himself. So for Rebekah to now collaborate with one of May’s enablers – that’s a bit of a problem…
I haven’t written anything about Daniel “Mr Burns” Ek and his cash cow Spotify for a while now, have I? So I thought I’d put that right and have a good look to see what the minted Swede has been getting up to recently.
The answer appears to involve spending very little time on social media. Perhaps he’s been busy rummaging around the backs of sofas at Spotify’s offices in Stockholm looking for a few extra hundred million dollars so he can buy Arsenal football club – just like he said he wanted to months ago?
Even more curious, however, is the fact he hasn’t tweeted anything about Spotify – bar one tweet on September 14th in reference to a podcast which he features on himself – in two months. Infact, the last thing about his non-profit making site that he mentioned was on July 29th. Two months ago today…
I’ve been getting the feeling for quite some time that Ek is getting bored of Spotify. During the pandemic, he announced he was investing nearly £1billion in deeptech – it tells you a lot about the man when at a time of hardship for the musicians on the site which made him a billionaire, he decides not to do anything to help them. An unworthy act from an unworthy person.
And of course, let’s not forget his expressions of interest – rebuffed so far – in purchasing a football club. The only part of Spotify he does show an interest in is podcasts, and given the eye-watering sums being paid to sign some of them – $25million alone for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
So far, the couple have only made one podcast, and it was their celebrity pals talking about how they spent 2020 – meaning they did almost no actual work on it! When they’re paying out such gargantuan sums of money to get this content, they have to shift a ton of advertising to break even, let alone profit.
Still, there is one piece of good news for Spotify. The British government has recommended the Competition and Markets Authority probe the major labels. I suspect it’s a prospect Daniel Ek is quite comfortable with – the heat being on the labels means the heat is off his site’s utterly abysmal payout rates…
Why are there so many people in the music business who think they’re owed freebies by everything around them? If your car tyres need changing, you don’t expect your local garage to do it for free. If you want to buy milk from the shop, you don’t expect you’ll get it for nothing.
Yet the music world is filled with types who reckon they’re entitled to pull a fast one over others. Boiler Room are like this – for years, they never paid a single DJ who appeared on their platform. This policy mysteriously changed in June 2020 – when no events were taking place – but they still emphasise the importance of exposure on the platform, as witnessed in their application for a bailout the same year.
Rigging up technical installations and scenery can be a difficult job to get right. Apart from physical demands, you also need to make sure that everything is wired up correctly – devices that are cabled incorrectly might not work properly. Worse case scenario is you could end up starting a fire.
So surely this level of responsibility should come with financial compensation, right? Er, apparently not. Whilst the DJs appearing are being paid, Possession are being paid and Boiler Room are being paid, the people who set everything up and make it all possible are not being paid.
In any other walk of life, they’d be dismissed as a bunch of cheapskates and mocked. But in music? Nobody bats an eyelid, let alone cares…
Tip of the hat goes to Dr Mathys for making me aware of this story.