The world’s largest music streaming platform has faced an avalanche of criticism after Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removed their music from the platform over the airing of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. This sparked a #deletespotify movement on social media and has seen Spotify’s shares plunge.
For many of us, Spotify is the only music streaming service we’ve ever used – so what else is there? Especially for those of us Gen Xers who have long since sold all our old LPs and CDs?
Caitlin Cherry (Gen X) asked our own technology specialist, Nick Gelling (Millennial), about the state of music streaming.
CAITLIN: I’m one of those people who thought Spotify was pretty much it – so what are the other music streaming options?
NICK: There are plenty! Deezer is probably the closest like-for-like alternative, with near-identical music libraries and functionality (including a free ad-supported option). If you use iOS or Mac devices, Apple Music is a natural choice that integrates well with other Apple products. YouTube Music is a great option if you like music videos, while Tidal offers higher audio quality for discerning ears.
CAITLIN: What about my lovingly crafted playlists on Spotify? Could I bring them over to a new one?
NICK: Yes. A few services exist to transfer your playlists and saved libraries between streaming providers.
I used Tune My Music to transfer 2513 songs from Spotify to Deezer and only 29 couldn’t be found. My playlists were maintained correctly and I didn’t find any mismatches. It was totally free, but only due to a special arrangement between Deezer and Tune My Music – to transfer to another service, there’s a 500-track limit before you have to spend a couple of dollars on Tune My Music Premium. Soundiiz is another service with a similar limit to the songs you can shift for free. But is a few dollars such a big price to pay if your heart’s set on switching?
For iPhone and iPad users, I’d recommend SongShift instead – a fantastic app that shifts playlists for free.
CAITLIN: Are there streaming services that are more ethical than others?
NICK: It depends what you mean by ethical. Spotify has Joe Rogan. Apple has Bannon’s War Room, which has been labelled a dangerous alt-right podcast. While YouTube Music is harmless in itself because it doesn’t feature podcasts, its big brother YouTube is haven to all sorts of misinformation.
CAITLIN: I’ve heard streaming services don’t pay the musicians much – are some better than others?
NICK: Artist revenue from streaming comes in by the cent. Different services provide different rates to artists, but the calculations are complicated and vary by artist, label and region.
Tidal, once owned by a collection of musicians, is marketed as the most artist-friendly service. Its royalty rates are closer to 1 cent per stream, compared to a third of a cent on Spotify. Apple Music also appears to be more generous, with about two-thirds of a cent per stream making it back to the artist, while Deezer hovers just over half a cent.
With that said, no streaming service is particularly good for artists. If you want to support your favourite musician, especially if they’re not popular enough to appear on the charts, try to supplement your streaming revenue with the occasional retail purchase – a concert ticket, a T-shirt or an album on Bandcamp.
CAITLIN: Truth is, I do love Neil Young, so how can I listen to him now that he is not on Spotify?
NICK: Neil Young and Joni Mitchell haven’t pulled their songs from competing streaming platforms, so you can find them there. Alternatively, you could embrace tradition and buy some records or CDs. Long live physical media!