Musicians Are Spammers

I recently read an article about about how to choose between Soundcloud and Mixcloud. The author chose Soundcloud, and the final argument was: the music gets more plays.

It’s a common opinon but it’s pretty lame, isn’t it? Is the amount of plays really the most important thing? When I quit Myspace in 2007, some artists said “I would like to follow you, but it’s just not possible for me in my position”. Despite the epic crapness of Myspace, artists used it because … well, everybody else did! And now they’re using something else, for pretty much the same reason I suppose.

But Myspace wasn’t replaced by one, but several sites. A real musician today should be on iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify and Bandcamp. Atleast. Because a sensible musician has to be easily available: quick access in as many places as possible simultaneously. If you’re not making yourself available, you’re either stubborn, stupid or lazy.

But content is everywhere these days. It’s like running water, except that it’s not necessary for survival. If it’s good we don’t really care so much, and if it’s bad we look for something else. It’s pretty much expendable. Right?

Modern distributors (such as iTunes) make money from ‘indie artists’ because they feel like they have to be there. And why? Because we are egocentrics who search for recognition and dream about fame, or money, or recognition, or something else. But if you look at it statistically, it’s not going to happen. Ever. It helps for promotion, you might say? Probably not, I’d say. Why would it? You don’t get promotion by “being on www”, do you?

A sensible solution is: use your own distribution channels and work on your communication skills. Inform the right people about your work, at the right time/place/blabla. Do quality work but remember that form is often more relevant than content, unfortunately. Don’t get bitter, just realise that all the smart kids think in terms of PR – intentionally or not – and so should you if you want to “succeed”.

The hardcore solution is: anonymous music distribution. Do you really need personal recognition for what you do? Maybe not? Put your music on 5TFU and feel the freedom of anonymity. Use silly aliases and troll your way through life. Fuck money and fame, just do it for the lulz. Have fun. Piss on social media and burn the flag.

A good example of  ‘troll distribution’ is to hide the music within videos. I found that a f ew years ago. The artist had interlaced an mpeg-video and an mp3 audio file. If you played it in VLC you’d see the video (with gaps every know and then) and if you played it in Winamp you’d get the music (with gaps). The music was some kind of beepy funk electronica.

It sounded great when I first heard it. Almost magically cool. Secret music! I still don’t know who did it. And you won’t know it if you find it either, I hope. What made it even better though, was that the video was an episode from Beverly Hills 90210. Original version, yo. Season 3, I think.

Yeah, I watch 90210. Hmm. Well, atleast I’m not using Spotify! :D


26 Responses to “Musicians Are Spammers”

  1. Neil Baldwn Says:

    Even 5TFU has ‘like buttons’

    Though we might remain anonymous, we still want to be loved :)



  3. Linda Says:

    There’s so many things I’d like to reply to your article, but I’m not known enough on the subject to add anything wise.

    Thank you for the 5tfu link anyways (and your articles!). As someone who likes music it’s interesting to not know who made the music and not being able to trace the author for “more where that came from”.

    And I liked the reference of mr Bowie of streaming water. I like to listen to streams (and podcasts from The Brain which run through my Winamp player like streams); it’s a very useful analogy! I also like streams because you can fish out new fish too :)

  4. FTC Says:

    I read a book called “Free: The future of a radical price” (by Chris Anderson) a while ago, and it was kind of interesting (although quite disturbing in some ways too). It dealt with the question of what happens when distribution costs approach zero, as in the case of distribution of digital stuff/music on the net. I think you are quite right that giving a damn about iTunes et al may be a sensible way to go (depending on what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it, of course). Luckily, I think that even though internet is “mainstreaming” many things through big sites where “everyone” seems to reside, it also allows for the survival of that “long tail” of indie stuff (due to having access to a potentially global “market” at a cheap price) that could not survive without a distribution channel like the net (i.e not like selling LP’s in a basement in Värnamo where your customers consist of five alcoholic hippies).. so.. the www-freak seems to be both ways at once if you ask me. Maybe this is all old news to you internet freakz, but.. ANYWAY. :)

    • goto80 Says:

      Yeah, I read that too and it has its moments. When using e.g iTunes the distribution costs become higher again. Though you’re not paying with money, you do pay with content and PR (just like with Facebook, etc). I guess it’s a win-win thing, if convenience/laziness/time-saving is the main priority. But I don’t like that the long tail (the majority of artists) are supporting this attitude. Just like indie artists support the copyright collection dudes (STIM in Sweden) which introduces weird regulations to give more money to mainstream artists/publishers/labels/etc.

  5. B.Leo Says:

    I’d love to hear why you dislike spotify. I’ve heard you knock it a few times, but without any real explanation. Personally, I really like it, but you are wise and I’m betting there’s an angle you have that I haven’t seen yet. Blowy for artists? De-values the music? SHOW ME THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT. Please. :D

  6. chunter Says:

    Most of the knocks on Spotify relate to it paying poorly. Spotify makes me $2 per year more than

    I admit I put the most energy into “venues” that get me the most hits/plays, but that’s because that is the entire purpose of the music I create: I want to leave something for posterity and know that my music was heard. Backhandedly, this means I want a little bit of fame, but that’s about it.

    I appreciate the anonymous style, though. If you think about popular internet meme songs, they are mostly anonymous (though the creators surface eventually,) and most of the people that enjoy these memes neither know nor care where they come from.

    • goto80 Says:

      It is more fun when more people hear your music, I agree. And that’s exactly why there can be a an attention economy where the people that do the work don’t get the money. Because we are more or less desperate for attention, so our decisions are good for ourselves instead of others. Hm. Or something. :)

  7. goto80 Says:

    In Sweden, Spotify has become the default legal option for Pirate Bay over the past few years. It is The Solution to The Problem.

    But to me, locks things into a commercial context when there’s no need to do so. Spotify is convenient, but there’s less content and you’re surrounded by commercials designed to annoy you to pay for a premium account (and that money goes to all the wrong people).

    In Swedish, the word spotifiering describes this and more. It was even noted by the national language 1337 d00ds as a new word in the Swedish language (but it originates from the pirate people). It’s how public squares are turned into privatized space where only consumers are allowed to be happy, or how Google (illegally) scans books and present them “for free” and will later charge you for it (like Spotify did — where do you think all their MP3s are from?).

    So: it’s part of a bigger picture that I don’t like. Try to catch the mini series Black Mirror to get some dramatic examples of spotifiering.

  8. Linda Says:

    I wonder (for a while) what the motivation for musicians/artists is to make music. You suggest fame, money or recognition (twice, perhaps not by accident). But I expect getting some attention (not necessary to the amount to get famous nor being appreciated for talent), making friends and find people alike or maybe also the good old “I did it for the girls” could be behind the music-composing and -making.

    In these (maybe not that idealistic, but very human) motivations a distribution platform offering more than just a (technically) good presentation of the music might be more towards these needs. For these motivations music is a tool to achieve aspects within a social life.

    Music is part of society. Music to celebrate, music to mourn, music to teach, music to impress peers etc. Nowadays social networks on the internet do well; a crossover between distributing music and socializing is natural.

    Personally I like music distributed standalone where there’s no distraction from trolling and spamming. I like to buy directly from the artist(‘s label). But I have no big social life anyhow. ;p

    The kind of motivation to make music I find fascinating is the “making music for fun”. If you would make it purely because you like it and you don’t give a fuck about anyone’s opinion, why would you record and distribute it in the first place? The last thing you’d want is some jerk(s) telling you you’re no good and a freak. Unless picking a fight is another of your hobbies. :-)

    So far my ideas on stuff I don’t know much about. Curious to hear other thoughts and especially what motivates to make music.

  9. FTC Says:

    In any case I think forms of all moralism connected to motivations to make music must be smashed with the hammer.

  10. Linda Says:

    I’m drenched with moralism. How do you get rid of it?

  11. goto80 Says:

    There’s “more people than ever” making music nowadays, and usually the explanation is that the technology is more available. But there’s also a broader shift, where self-expression has become really important. Express yourself, heyyy heyyy heyyy heyyyyyyyy.

    There are of course other motivations like you mention, but in many cases the dominant one is self expression (rather than just-for-fun or social aspects). You could put it this way: if there’s money being made from your music, it’s not for fun. And if you use commercial platforms, it’s an economic thing. But that’s a bit of a stretch :)

    I don’t know why I started to make music. But I know that I’m more introverted now than before. Not as interested in getting attention from the outside anymore. Getting disturbing comments from demosceners works fine for me!

    FTC: I vote for normative. Force people to not be self-expressive, and the music will become fantastic again.

    • B.Leo Says:

      I have to wonder if your introversion comes from the fact that you’ve firmly established yourself as a well-respected artist. You’ve climbed the mountain, per se, and now can focus primarily on pushing yourself musically, not just pushing yourself on others ;)

  12. papernoise Says:

    I admit it, one of the reasons I make music is because I like the feeling of being in front of an audience, always loved that. Most of the time the audience is 20 people, but that’s another topic :)
    I guess you could say I like the attention. But I also like music as a language and love to mess with it, it’s part fun, part the will to explore things, undertand them.

    This says I’m really annoyed by the continuos “look at me, listen to me” on the net. Everybody wants attention, everybody shouts but nobody listens. about 10 people add me on soundcloud a day and 90% are people who will unfollow me the day after, who make music I don’t have anything in common with, and never played one of my tracks. Why are they adding me? They just collect followers (or try to, since most of the time this trick does not work) to later spam them with their stuff.

    I like to get attention, but I want the people to be genuinely interested in what I do, can’t care less to have 2000 followers who don’t give a shit about my music. So I’m not adding 20 people a day in the hope that 10% follow me back and then forget to unfollow me when I spam them.

    But the problem is, it seems, that it’s really not about the music, it’s really all about the attention, but missing the whole point of getting attention.

    There is a lack of culture I would say, a positive social culture of the net and I think everybody who sees the problem should act to do something about it.

  13. Where Did Free and Open Ever Get Us? « CHIPFLIP Says:

    […] presume that ways of making an income is a private matter”. For me this is spot on. Artists think too much about themselves. Why is there so little politics in electronic music? Why is it normal to use corporate tools […]

  14. Stop Laughing About Ministry of Sound | CHIPFLIP Says:

    […] From this point of view, it makes sense for Ministry of Sound to protect their work. Now I don’t really know their compilations, but spontaneously I feel like what they do is more important than what composers and artists do. I guess most people would disagree, but in my world music creators are spammers hehe. […]

  15. Tom Says:

    I really like Soundcloud because it gives me the possibility to talk to other people about their and my music. It’s also a great way to ‘publish’ and make it easy for other people to listen to music without obsolete play-constructions or unnecessary downloads. “Soundcloud gets more plays” is such a weird to thing say indeed, as if you make music for the amount of plays.

    I can get in to musicians are spammers though, I find myself always posting new songs on Social Media but it’s a good way to learn new people. Twitter is a great platform to meet new people that also make music via various hashtags. I like that. And well, if I’m happy with something we made I’d like other people to hear it. :-)


    Tom (from xyce)

    • goto80 Says:

      Spamming usually works, that’s why we/they do it. I think it´s a fundamental problem of the way we make things today, and it´ll be interesting to see how we´ll deal with eg robot book publishes, robot music publishers, robot scholars, robot journalists, etc. Right now, whoever is the best robot wins!

  16. Goto80: Custom8 (www) « GOTO8O Says:

    […] Big thanks to OJD for the photography, C-Men for the design, Kaneel for the code, and David Lindecrantz for the Goto80-logo. Thanks for making Custom8 possible. Much Dataslav performance at Dataslöjd > Real-time Dataslav as a Groupees prize > Musicians are spammers […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: