I’m not typically swayed by calls to boycott billionaire’s products. Especially when those are things I really like and find useful. Its difficult to find any billionaire that isn’t doing stupid things with their money e.g. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos. Well I have already canceled my Amazon account and will likely never be able to afford a Tesla or a ride on a rocket anyway.
The case against Daniel Ek and his Spotify has been mounting since the very beginning. Ek’s investment in the military industrial complex has been the final straw for me. I initially avoided Spotify as I was content at the time with my CD collection and my mp3 player, but over the years I caved. I want to be completely honest about this: I love Spotify. They totally got me. The ability to listen to new music every single day and to explore the depths of obscure experimental music, and also get recommendations for more weird avant garde music, was right up my musical ADD alley. But it has been a guilty pleasure of mine. I felt shame using the service. I wanted to stand with all those other cool kids who were saying stuff like “I only listen to music on vinyl,” or what have you. The reality is I work 10 hours a day baking bread and can listen to whatever I want and I’m not going to lug my record collection to a dusty bakery. So Spotify was bliss for me.
This year I made the decision to start distributing Histamine Tapes music in other digital channels than just Bandcamp. While Bandcamp is the clear winner when it comes to the ethical distribution of music online, it will never have the convenience that streaming services have. There is an allure to the possibility of having your music playlisted with the big names of your respective genre. I had immediate gratification with this when Carlos Ferreira’s Vortex from Hakanai was picked up by one of Spotify’s editorial playlists. My decision to join the streaming world was specifically to get on Spotify. It’s the service with the most playlists, it’s one of the most popular, and it’s the one I personally used. I wanted to see and hear Histamine Tapes music when I was at work. I wanted others to discover these artists this way. I wanted to create label specific playlists to share with the world and the fans of the label.
I discovered the news about Ek’s investment in Military AI tech immediately after spreading word on social media about the updated Histamine Tapes Spotify playlist. I got a deep sinking feeling reading this news. I felt ill. There’s no way I can justify associating my name and the names of all the artists on my label, with faceless, bigoted technology of death. Being antiwar is at the core of who I am and what I do as a label. Music is about peace and should remain that way.
All this is to say that these are big complex feelings. I know there is little I can do to avoid all support for war outside of living in a tiny house in the wilderness and being totally self sustaining (or maybe not I don’t know). I’m writing this to share my guilt and also my complicity in this system, and acknowledge the inherent hypocrisy of living during late capitalism. I’m not here to shame you for making the decision to stick with Spotify. I wouldn’t blame you. I switched to a different service (Apple Music) because I’m an addict, but certainly Apple isn’t guilt free. I’ll likely change my mind about this and support a different service or none at all since that seems to be the “right thing to do.” But for now I joining the #boycottspotify movement. Fuck these billionaires and the stupid shit they do with their money.
For the time being my music and the music of other HT artists that I had distributed will remain on Spotify, but I will begin pulling my own music from the service, and reaching out to other artists to see if they want to remain their.