After a few years of being a subscriber to Spotify, I’ve decided to cancel my subscription. Beyond the general controversy of the day, Spotify’s decision to publish and promote a pretty terrible person despite their purpoted misinformation rules, they’ve never been terribly good to musicians. I’ve been vaguely aware that streaming via Spotify was never a lucrative deal for most of the musicians, which is why I’ve always made efforts to use Spotify only as a vehicle for finding and easily accessing music while supporting the artist more directly through other platforms, but the whole Joe Rogan controversy has brought a lot of other problems with Spotify into the limelight and I can no longer give them money without betraying my conscience.
Initially, I used Spotify without paying for it. I just wanted access to music and my decade using Pandora had made me mostly immune to the annoyance of advertisements. Eventually, though, my frustrations with the specific advertisements I was getting from Spotify, not to mention the complete inability to report or block ads I found odious or offensive, pushed me to take advantage of an extended free trial. Once I got a taste of how it felt to be able to better control my music, skip songs, and really build a personal library, I was unable to go back to a free account. It was worth it, regardless, to avoid those advertisements. I was very sick of being told in the most toxic-masculinity way possible that going bald was a moral failure.
In retrospect, I probably should have found a different service once I realized I was getting almost nothing but shitty advertisements about “rough man-soap” and “going bald means you’re not a REAL man” that I had no way to avoid other than exposing all my personal data to the various content algorithms of the internet. That was a pretty clear sign that the company didn’t give a shit about anything but its own profits. In my own defense, I was going through a lot of stuff at the time and I didn’t really have the emotional capacity to grapple with this specific aspect of toxic capitalism. I’d just lost my grandfather and separated myself from most of my family, and Spotify was, in my head, the home of the podcasts I listened to while visiting my grandfather in his final days and the source of the stories that helped me escape from the stress of enforcing boundaries my parents did their best to ignore.
Ultimately, though, I’m doing what I think is best for myself and that aligns with my personal beliefs. I might still use the service, since it’s a great way to find new music still, but I’m not going to give them any more of my money. If I can find a decent streaming service that works well for my needs and supports the artists being streamed on it, I’ll leave Spotify in the dust entirely. I’m also going to try to find a decent podcatcher app, so I can break as completely from Spotify as possible. There seem to be a lot of apps out there, but I still need to do my research before I commit to one. After all, I have the emotional and mental energy for finding the right service(s) before my final month of Spotify subscription ends. Might as well take the time to do it now, you know?
None of which is going to replace supporting the artists as directly as I can. I still try to buy digital downloads from sites like bandcamp when I can, directly support artists on their websites when I can’t, and make sure I’m at least using their officially shared content if nothing else. There may be no ethical consumption under capitalism, but I can still do my best. After all, in this varied, complex, interconnected world of ours, I just need to focus on doing what I think is right or doing my best so I can sleep at night. Anything beyond that is a bonus.