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Ah Spotify… So many people love it and so many musicians are afraid of it.  It solves a number of problems for the consumer, mainly the sheer want of having ALL the music in one spot.  Yes, all of it.  For musicians it solves nothing.  It puts all the music (yes, basically all of it) in to one big grey pile of tunes to sift through and sort out. And for the most part Spotify takes away one more major income stream from the full time musician. Album sales.

Ok, ok, there is the social aspect, that you can share music with your friends on Facebook, and that you can explore music your friends are listening to right now, and let’s be honest… there is a lot of really great music on Spotify just waiting to be discovered by you. You can listen on your iPad, iPhone, Android Phone… computer, basically anywhere you have the ability to stream music.  To be honest I can’t really think of any reason why you shouldn’t use it.

“In the future we will listen to music on these silver disc’s called CD’s… and we’ll be able to hear music fully digital with almost no loss in quality”.

Remember that?  When I started taking my music career more seriously I started thinking ahead.  I started wondering what the future of music distribution was. We had Mini Disc from Sony that never really caught on.  And then there it was.  It came out of nowhere.  The MP3. I was saying before it all happened that our music was going to be all in one little spot like a mini computer, and then it happened over night!  The MP3 was a major change, and the beginning of the end for record companies, radio, and a number of other musical industries.  You see… the MP3 could be ripped from a CD, uploaded to the inter web and be available for for anyone to just take.  Yes, you could now steal.  You could before as well… but now the MASSES could take it.

Fast forward a few years.  Not that long really, the MP3 is dead.  The iTunes store will be a thing of the past in no time.  Only old weird audiophiles will have CD’s, and you?  You will stream your music from the cloud.  For a measly $7 a month you can have everything (musically) you’ve ever wanted.  Pearl Jam?  Sure.  Radiohead?  Yup. CCR?  Of course.  Deni Gauthier?  Not yet… but eventually.  The future of music is in the cloud.  For the musician, you will do everything in your power to just get streams.  Yes you will get paid for them, but only a fraction of a cent.  We will put time and effort into figuring out how we can have people actually listen to our music… how we can cut through the fat and find our fans in the big grey ball of ALL the music.

Let me do a little explaining on why I think having all the music is a bad thing for you.  Remember when you’d save up and get the one CD you wanted for months?  Then you’d listen to it.  Over and over.  You’d LOVE it, and if it was bad, you’d still love it because you bought it and you want to make it count!  Eventually you bought enough CD’s to have a collection.  This was your personal arsenal of music that would see you through some very tough times, breakups, deaths… good times like weddings and parties.  This music became a soundtrack and ingrained it’s self in to the very fibre of your being, and when you take that album of CD’s off the shelf you feel like those CD’s are your war buddies.  Those memories, those experiences become something with the music.  Think back to how many CD’s were in that collection.  Maybe 60?  If you were a real collector 100 or more.

Now you can literally have all the music.  You will find favourites, and you will make the almighty playlist, and you will love some and hate some.  BUT, when you go to listen to music, and you can choose from 50,000 albums, there is a subtle change in how you value the music.  I know, because in my iTunes collection I have a LOT of music.  Some of it is incredibly de-valued simply because there is now so much to look through. In conclusion.  Spotify is good.  The cloud will be your friend. It’s awesome for you to have access to that much music.  But it might not be an ideal situation.  And believe me, I’m not the type to live in the past.  But there is value in having a smaller collection that is worth more to you.  For the musician, we have no choice but to embrace the future and figure it out.  I for one plan on making the most out of it.  But right now, we still live in a world where people buy music on iTunes, so we have time to make this transition.

For now, don’t stop discovering music and buying it when you can.  Don’t stop hearing an album 100 times before you switch to another one.  Don’t stop talking to real people face to face about your new discoveries. Don’t stop putting on some nice headphones and doing nothing but listen…

What are your views on Spotify? Do you agree with Deni’s assessment? If you’re a musician, how are you approaching these sorts of technological developments?

Guest Author:

Today’s guest post is from my friend, Deni Gauthier, a Canadian singer/songwriter whom I met through a mutual friend via Twitter. I had originally saved this space for a different post from Deni about how he uses Social Media in his career. He’s great at it. But the other day we had a conversation on our mutual friend Michael Krahn’s Facebook wall about Spotify, the relatively new music service that is fully integrated within the “new” Facebook. Michael was complaining that it wasn’t available yet in Canada, so I decided to rub it in. Deni eventually stepped in and the discussion turned to what Spotify means for indie musicians. I asked Deni to pour his thoughts into a post for me, and here is what he came up with. Oh, and his other guest post for me will see the light of day here in the near future.