the streaming wars

Spotify Makes Some Artists So Angry, Even Joanna Newsom Thinks It’s ‘Villainous’

Joanna Newsom arrives at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
Queen Joanna has spoken. Photo: Image Press/Corbis

The streaming wars bring up a lot of tension behind closed doors, even among some of the industry’s more tranquil musicians. Take Joanna Newsom: In an interview with the L.A. Times, she was asked why her music isn’t available for streaming anywhere other than Pandora. She kept it real, explaining that “Spotify is like a villainous cabal of major labels” whose main goal is to profit off subscriptions and advertisers while artists get paid “infinitesimal” royalties in return for their art. “It’s set up in a way that they can just rob their artists, and most of their artists have no way to fight it because they’re contractually obligated to stay with the label for x amount of time and you can’t really opt out,” she says. “It’s a garbage system.” (Though that’s a step up from “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.”) See, not even Newsom can keep calm about the shady streaming business, and she plays the harp for a living. What of the other streaming services on the market? “I haven’t researched Tidal enough,” she says. And she makes no mention of Apple Music, which might be for the best, given the way it treated artists before Taylor Swift came to the rescue.

Joanna Newsom Calls Spotify ‘Villainous’