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In a recent appearance on the Locales Only podcast, Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows spoke about the critical issue of artist autonomy and the challenges posed by streaming platforms like Spotify.

Shadows underscored Spotify’s consumer-friendly model, emphasizing its affordability and vast music library accessible to subscribers. However, he also pointed out a glaring imbalance: while consumers enjoy unparalleled ease of access, artists find themselves constrained by limited control over their own work. The platform lack crucial insights essential for artists to understand their audience demographics and tailor marketing strategies effectively.

“Spotify has a great system for the user. They pay $9.99 a month or $14.99, whatever it is at this point, and they get all the music that’s ever been created for virtually nothing. Now, on the other end, the artist has nowhere else to have their music listened to. You’re not gonna go on a road trip and go to every individual artist’s website to pull up their latest record and stream it from there. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s kind of like when you put a AAA movie out, but it’s not on Netflix and it’s not in the theaters. Who actually goes and sees it? The way the consumerism is in America, we want ease of use.”

Moreover, Shadows criticized Spotify’s failure to foster direct connections between artists and listeners. Unlike branded merchandise associated with individual artists, Spotify lacks a mechanism for artists to engage with their fan base or monetize beyond streaming royalties. The system, as Shadows described, benefits labels rather than artists, perpetuating outdated record deals that diminish artists’ earnings.

“They have ease of use for the consumer, but what they don’t do is — I don’t know the last time I saw someone wear a Spotify shirt around. I’ve seen Metallica shirts, and Avenged Sevenfold shirts, and Taylor Swift shirts, but what they don’t do is they don’t tell you who’s listening to your music. They don’t let you reach out to them. They don’t let you perhaps upsell them things… And they’ve basically sold the company in return for catalog to the labels.

“And so now you have all these old record label deals that most people are locked into, getting a royalty on that percentage that Spotify pays you. So, say, Spotify, for purposes of easy discussion, 0.003 cents a play. Most bands are getting about 24 cents on the dollar. So it’s not Spotify, really, the payment; it’s more of the labels and having bad deals.”

Spotify has come under fire in recent months largely due to their new policy that bars royalties for any song that doesn’t get 1,000 plays yearly. The company also laid off 17% of its staff in December right before Christmas, and drew some serious ire earlier this year from Dee Snider.

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