Huffington Post Pulls Spotify Story

Blake Morgan wrote:
"Webster’s English Dictionary defines the term 'golden goose' as a continuing source of wealth or profit that may be exhausted if it’s misused. Sadly, Spotify’s ongoing crisis of misuse begins and ends with the fact that they don’t know their only product is music. They think it’s themselves, which explains each and all of their stunning mistakes and missteps. They’d be well-served to ask any first-semester business student what the difference is between a 'brand' and a 'product.' But I don’t think they will, and I don’t think it’d help them at this point. I think their goose is cooked."
One can only wonder as to the reasons this telling and critical piece of reporting was pulled from the Huff post site but best guesses are pointing to Spotify's impending IPO and presumed pressure from the company.

Thankfully, The Trichordist has published Morgan's original article plus the email Morgan received from Huff Post's Bryan Maygers explaining their reasons for unpublishing the post.

Definitely worth a read:

The Slippery Slope of Censorship: @HuffPost Pulls Story Critical of @Spotify Ahead of IPO

screen shot from Blake Morgan's page on Huff Post

PeterMusic's picture

An excellent piece. Even worse, Spotify has served to devalue music in the same way that free news sites devalue original journalism. They say that "information wants to be free" while they amass billion dollar fortunes distributing that information. Puhlease!

morrismrinak's picture

I love streaming music & am a TIDAL maniac. My current love for TIDAL hinges greatly on how the current management handles it's "product" & those who produce that "product". I also have several good friends who are musicians. None of them agree with or subscribe to Spotify. My personal rejection of Spotify comes from their Bittorrent history which I felt was basically stealing. Still do. Will the real Napster please stand up!

Brown Sound's picture

I'm so glad this was saved and re-posted. It's this sort of stuff, that makes me happy I only subscribe to Tidal. Thank you, Michael.

deckeda's picture

HuffPo "couldn't verify" what 40 other musicians present in the meeting might corroborate? Is that because those 40 lack any way to be contacted? Such horseshit.

Morgan's missive was "Spot"-on despite some seriously dumb analogies and weak associations.

Netflix' productions are a byproduct of revenue gleaned from rental income from users, er I mean viewers. And remember, Netflix original programming is only a recent phenomenon. Non-current movies and TV shows were very much their only "product" before that. Still is, mostly!

I disagree with the BitTorrent association. Ek may have used tech learned from that endeavor, but it's not as if Spotify has ever engaged in that sort of service! The technology used to create Spotify is inherently no different than what other subscription services use, so trying to paint Ek as some sort of entity outside the law is a damn weak argument IMO.

His mentioning Spotify not paying mechanical royalties in the copyright lawsuits is a legit dispute, but it's not as if the artists weren't supposed to be OFF the service, as with illegal torrents. So if he's wishing to extend that alleged misbehavior to Spotify's low-paying policies, so be it ... but there's no causation there. And maybe not even correlation.

What Spotify wants to be is what ALL subscription services want to be: destination points, and that's why the execs see Spotify as "the product." Just ask your local cable or sat TV provider ... or your ISP! The LAST thing they ever want to be considered, is a "dumb pipe" utility.

The meeting was arguing about semantics. Of course the product is music. But the exec could have used some tact and said "I see what you mean ..." and diffused the situation far better.

bobflood's picture

early days of the internet where "get them hooked and we'll charge (monetize) later" philosophy prevailed. The problem has now become that "free for a long time is now free forever" in the minds of the public. Charging what it actually costs to produce and distribute content is going to be a monumental task going forward

Mark Tarone's picture

The Spotify <> Musicians meeting shows a problematic cultural void at Spotify. They are unable to put themselves in musicians' shoes. They can't see what the average (i.e. not major label) musician sees. Their primary relationship is with major labels. They think that mega payments to major labels is supporting the average professional musician. It's not. It's likely not in their best interest to make all decisions with a 'Musicians First' approach, but they at least need to be able to see what that approach would look like and consider adopting at least some elements of such a strategy. Right now, they have a Major Labels First approach to music. While it's understandable how they got there (major labels provide the vast majority of their content), their Major Labels First approach misses the mark in many ways and creates major brand challenges as they try to move from a company that loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year to a profitable one. Public and government perception is critical, and a Major Labels First approach will not win the war. Major Labels are not "cool" (remember the 80's and 90's?). They don't help your brand. Musicians are the ones who will carry your brand to the holy land. A cultural change is needed at Spotify.

deckeda's picture

Labels left format creation to other people when digital audio was created. They just completely abdicated all of that as "not invented here." This meant they could never drive the market for their product. It opened the door for distributors to become more like brands. Little wonder Spotify sees themselves as a brand, as the endgame. Apple touted AAC in a world of MP3, for example. HDTracks advertises hi res, or at least 16 bit lossless, even when labels never do either. And it's their own product!

The author's complaint that Spotify considers themselves to be the product is something he needs to address to record labels. They have had so many opportunities to control the product but reliably hand it over to someone else under the guise of distribution control, which is not the same.

Imagine if Tower Records or Peaches or Musicland of Fye back in the day were responsible for paying royalties. Ridiculous. But online streaming services? Sure! "Let's let them pay our artists! What could possibly go wrong?"

The artist who signs with a major label signs away their ability to have someone advocate for them. Why else would we be hearing about stuff like this today?

deckeda's picture

"It" being the music, not file formats. (There's no editing option here.)

sarahcl90's picture

Worth a read indeed. I'm kinda afraid of Spotify being overly monopolistic on the market since it's sometimes hard to find less known artists on the Internet. Good thing we still have Bandcamp, such a great service for both fans and musicians.

Best regards,

v1m's picture

“We’re not making any judgment about the accuracy of the claims made in the piece, but the contributors platform is intended as a place for commentary based on the established factual record, not original reporting.”

Doublespeak 101.

That it comes from the HuffPost is about as surprising as rain in spring. Agreeing on “the established factual record” is in all matters important, but authoritarians want control of the means — the dialectic — that shapes said record. “Original reporting,” the lifeblood of any free society, is a problem to them unless first seduced, corralled or filtered.

Based on the sole writing by Blake Morgan I’ve seen, he can think and he isn’t for sale. Good man.