Well, let’s be clear: I don’t really have a connection. My headline is 100% click bait.
But … there is a VERY loose connection.
Back in 1999, I conceived of an online music platform called BarChord.com. Myself and three other partners launched the business early in 2000. It was exciting, it was the dawn of the new millennium and it was an opportunity to kick some ass in the music world.
The core idea was simple: artists create a profile page, they upload songs to that page and then users could download songs that they like or that fit within their profiles. We’d have advertising and third-party business relationships, but the main business model was between us and the artist. For every download, we’d share the revenue (based on a price that THEY chose) 50/50.
As in, EQUAL.
In fact, while getting things up and running was a unique challenge, the biggest complication we had was creating an algorithm that would be based on more pay to musicians and artists as the volume of downloads increased. Once we hit a certain maximum and obtained our target margins, artists might have qualified for receiving as much as 90% of all revenue associated with paid downloads.
Within a few months, we had thousands of media files and songs available for download.
We had many problems, the greatest of which was micropayments. PayPal and other services were just barely starting to reduce minimum purchase thresholds and credit companies were charging outrageous rates for using their systems.
If that wasn’t enough to discourage things, Napster and iTunes came along and squashed us like a bug.
Eventually, I threw in the towel with BarChord.com, but not without a lot of ‘what if’ nagging doubts about how things could have turned out better.
This past week in January, 2022 was pretty nutty in Canada as most sane people watched rabid WEXITeers, Yellow Vest 2.0 folks and anti-vaxxers cross the country in trucks to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, only to shit on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate monuments like the Terry Fox statue while waving Nazi flags around.
As someone said, ‘it’s not all of us’, but if you’re playing for a team with 90% of the players being decent folks, but you’re part of a group that enables neo-Nazis and anti-science bumpkins sadly calling out about ‘freedom’, then maybe it’s worth re-evaluating who you’re cheering and playing for.
Fast-forward to today and there’s a little company called Spotify. You may have heard of them. They have a market cap (as of Jan 25) of about $US 40 billion.
That is, until last week.
Neil Young stood up and spoke out against misinformation that’s being spread, using the Spotify platform and podcasts as a mode of amplification and finding bigger audiences. It’s this misinformation that helped spur the events in Ottawa and the rest of Canada over the last couple of weeks.
Neil Young withdrew his catalogue and shortly after, Joni Mitchell and many other artists have pulled the plug on their portfolios on #Spotify.
#DeleteSpotify is one of the most popular hashtags out there right now.
We’ve closed our Spotify account.
After Neil Young and others spoke up and acted on their morals, the market cap value of Spotify dropped more than 10% within a couple of days.
It seems Neil’s ‘Heart of Gold’ will also be a ‘Pot of Gold’ for someone else.
Getting back to core model, I don’t understand why Spotify doesn’t treat artists better.
Would Johnson & Johnson support getting paid $0.0084 per item sold in a WalMart? Maybe they do, but I doubt it.
I think it’s a reminder of how little we value artistic creation in our society.
For now, it’s looking like the artists MIGHT have the upper hand, but I doubt that will last long.
Man, would I love to have BarChord up and running again.