6 years ago, I had written an article ‘What would our Grandchildren consider classics?’
I had argued…
The proliferation of content and the ad economy has resulted in what can be best described as the attention economy. In fact, this article beautifully lays out, how scarcity has evolved from food, to land, to labor, to information, and now to attention.
Consequentially, the only thing anybody is vying for is attention. News reporting is going down the drain. The world has a lot of real problems to deal with, inequality, poverty, terrorism, climate change, etc. but all the news is about things that will be entertaining.
The news has been a part of the entertainment industry for a fairly long time now. Look at what praying at the alter of entertainment has brought us - Donald Trump might be nominated to fight for presidency.
If this trend were to persist, and I have no reason to believe it would not, 100 years from now the classics that our great grand children will be reading would be some shit Kim Kardashian wrote (Or worse shot in her bedroom)!
Niel Young is a Canadian singer, musician and songwriter. His heydays were in the 70s and I know none of his songs but in his day he was a big deal.
Joe Rogan is an ultimate fighting champion who also happens to be a podcaster. His brand of followers is those who follow Trump.
Spotify cut a deal with Joe Rogan a couple of years ago to ensure that his podcast was exclusively available on Spotify for all the reasons quoted above. They paid him $100 Million.
Appealing to Trump supporters means furthering misinformation. Joe Rogan is quite good at that.
Last week, Niel Young issued an ultimatum to Spotify asking them to either throw out Joe Rogan; or his own music from the platform. Spotify went ahead and obliged by removing all of Niel Young’s songs from their service.
I’m processing the situation in a couple ways, but one is assessing the economic incentives. Spotify’s thinking is obvious. What does losing Young mean? The company’s not financially dependent on his streams or subscribers — Drake or Taylor Swift might be a different story — and barring a mass exodus of subscribers over his missing catalog, things remain business as usual. In fact, the company loses money every time someone streams Young’s songs, which is why Spotify wanted to get into podcasting in the first place. It makes money every time someone listens to Rogan.
Producing trash is cheap. Hence making money on it is easy.
It is all about the money.
How are Spotify and Facebook different? Would this make it possible for record labels to band up against Spotify? Is that really the reason to launch this salvo? Would Taylor Swift follow next? If all the music goes would people still subscribe to Spotify? Or will nobody else grow a spine?
2022 will make it clear.