Q. WHY ARE YOU OK WITH YOUR MUSIC BEING ON SPOTIFY NOW?
A. When I was a Young Life leader, I hung out at high-school football games, track meets and Taco Bell. I didn’t do any of that because I was really in to high-school athletics and food that can kill me. I did it because thats where high-school kids were hanging out. Had I waited for the average 17-year-old to meet me on my own terms, I’d have been a rather horrible Young Life Leader. I had to trust that showing up where they were hanging out was going to be reciprocated in conversation and engagement beyond Taco Bell and the game. It was a risk I took. But that’s the nature of relationship, isn’t it? It’s risky.
That is roughly how I’ve come to understand the relationship between musician and listener nowadays – it’s a relationship. And if it’s going to be a healthy one, I don’t get to set the terms according to my preferences. Listeners are getting their music at Spotify, etc… so I’ll be there as well.
Redefining this relationship has meant asking the question “What do you really want to do with your art?” If the answer to that question is “I want to make money and pay for my life,” then the sequence of decisions I make about Spotify, etc… head in one direction. But if the answer to that question is “I want to help provide language for the process of faith and life,” the sequence of decisions I I make are dramatically different.
Part of the change in that relationship does go the other way, of course. And this is where you come in. Platforms like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Patreon allow you to support artists in a far more helpful way than just picking up the product when it’s finished. Being a participant and a patron… getting to help make the work we care about is a beautiful gift in exchange for simply being a consumer. Part of that beauty is the risk it requires. Investing time, energy and money in a project on the front end means you might be building something you’re not perfectly satisfied with. It’s the risk, in fact, that artists live with regularly. And now you get to share that risk.
So, I’ll take the risk of making my work available on Spotify and the rest while you take the risk of investing more personally and directly in what I make. I think this relationship can work. We will have to trust one another.