By Paul Fiore, Copywriter
Or how Spotify turned music into running water
Over a long interview with the New York Times in 2002, Bowie remembered the future.
“The absolute transformation of everything we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing. Music, itself, is going to become like running water or electricity…”
We have access to water whenever we need it. It’s piped through mains and available at the turn of a tap. As internet access becomes ever-present – and wireless – this model now applies for music too. Previously, the only way we could have the music we wanted was to buy or steal it. Now, thanks to Spotify, we can just turn on the tap and get the White Stripes or Barry White or Whitesnake on demand. Not to mention the collected works of David Bowie.
As I write this, I have only minutes left before my free trial of Spotify Premium ends. “Sweet Thing (Reprise)” is currently streaming through my iPhone. David Bowie is looking at me through the tiny “Diamond Dogs” record cover on the screen. He speaks into my eyes.
“Hello there, strange bearded fellow. What are you planning to do with your remaining time in Spotify?”
There are 16 million songs to choose from. I can go anywhere from here. One important thing to know is that artists on Spotify are paid one cent every time someone streams one of their songs. This gives me a sense of empowerment. I feel like a stingy emperor, flinging out tiny coins to wandering minstrels.
“Freedom OF choice, it’s what you got. Freedom FROM choice, it’s what you want.”
Devo mocks my lack of imagination. Instead of choosing a young, starving indie band to donate my cent to, I have chosen a band that reached its peak in 1980. There is too much to chose from and I am paralysed. I skip again.
LCD Soundsystem are a contemporary band, right? Oh wait. They have split up now. “You don’t know what you really want,” the band sings at me. And they are right.
There is only enough time left for one song. Crestfallen, I go back to where I started. It’s no use fighting against it, I think. Bowie is always right. I play “Always Crashing the Same Car”. On the record cover, Bowie has turned his face away from me in disgust.
“Wow. Good choice. You have just made a billionaire one cent richer,” he sneers.