This worker is teaching people to use the iPads that will one day replace her. It’s an awkward phenomenon that now pervades a growing cross-section of industries, a type of techno-solutionism that’s unbearable because it insistently capitalizes on quick fixes for problems that didn’t exist to begin with. It’s also a disadvantageous mutation of principles that marketers have historically leveraged to make us feel bad about ourselves so that we’ll buy more shit we don’t need. It is all of these things, and it is also becoming the operating motive of the music industry.
But who’s to blame? Saunier recognizes the tough spot so many artists and labels are in, where they’re unable to outwardly criticize their corporate overlords without risking total irrelevance. “The people I would blame the most are the greedy chauvinists in charge of companies like Spotify and [those] who own Google,” he goes on:
These are the companies that have presented themselves as hip, huge, harmless . . . In fact, they are ruthless and as hungry for profit . . . They’re shark-like. Just eat up everything, take all of the world’s creations. Digitize them and offer them back to humanity either for free or for an incredibly low price. And don’t pay, or massively underpay the creators, and just kick back and put your feet up, and know that if Greg from Deerhoof doesn’t like it, well that’s fine, because there are a million other people lined up behind Greg who are perfectly happy to volunteer their music to exactly such a scheme in hopes of doing something besides being a barista their whole life.
quoting Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier
[...] With this in mind, and when I worry over the publications, labels, and artists who have (reluctantly or otherwise) embraced Spotify, I can’t help but think of that airport restaurant server who teaches you how to use the iPad, thereby contributing to her own obsolescence. Why is the music press generating value for a platform that in every way plans to eliminate it? And what will become of music criticism in a world without records? Will publications review discovery feeds and write profiles of playlists? What good will criticism be when all of music has coalesced into algorithmically preordained Muzak?
I want to believe that it’s not too late to beat the billionaires and the bots. But earlier this year Spotify signed a lease for fourteen floors at Four World Trade Center. The company’s gone on a hiring spree, with plans to add a thousand employees. The new lease costs $2.77 million in monthly rent. And it lasts until 2034.
although I feel like there's value in a music press being more about personal storytelling (like that incredible piece on The National), I agree with her sentiment and also think that Spotify planning ahead for 2034 is fucking terrifying