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FAILURE Removes Their Music From Spotify Over Recent Events & Low Pay: "It's Been A Scam For Artists From The Beginning"

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Photo by Priscilla C. Scott

The Spotify spat has finally directly affected the rock and metal world. After artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their music from the streaming service over a disagreement with Spotify continuing to host The Joe Rogan podcast, Failure has done the same. In a lengthy statement, Failure said Spotify has "been a scam for artists since the beginning," and that they "simply cannot square Spotify's insistence on spreading misinformation about something that directly endangers our band's supply chain."

Failure does mention that all their music is still available on Bandcamp, as well as other streaming services like Apple Music. Failure existed originally between 1990 and 1997, and again from 2014 to present day. The band has six albums and five EPs under their belt, including the late 2021 album Wild Type Droid. For reference, Failure has roughly 235,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and several songs over 1 million streams.

"Failure have wrestled with the question of Spotify and whether to have our newest music, which we control, on the platform. Until now, our ambivalence about Spotify has been based on their draconian royalty calculation which essentially gives artists a microscopic fraction of the money being generated by their music on the platform.

"We've all seen the stories of just how little Spotify pays artists whose product powers their entire business model. It's been a scam for artists since the beginning, following in the tradition of the major label model which preceded it.

"But artists who want to have their music heard by the most ears possible have had an tough decision to make. Do we give our music to a company that devalues our product to the point where royalty checks from Spotify have become the butt of humorous memes, or do we withhold our music from the platform and supposedly miss out on an "entire generation of music listeners?"

"That is exactly where Failure have been since 2015 when we released our first album since reuniting. Acquiescing to the desire for more ear holes. But now, with Spotify's recent policy shift that allows COVID vaccine misinformation to thrive on their platform, Failure have decided that enough is enough.

"Beyond the moral issues raised by Spotify's COVID decision, the issue of vaccine misinformation and how it directly affects the current situation in the live music space is simply untenable. Right now, Failure have a 31-date US tour booked for June. The last tour we had booked in 2019 was canceled because of COVID, which was a massive financial blow to the band.

"The vast majority of venues on our upcoming tour are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to see our show. We simply cannot square Spotify's insistence on spreading misinformation about something that directly endangers our band's supply chain, namely, human beings in a room with big speakers. There are multiple layers, and reasons for our decision, but looking at the capitalistic, free market angle, this band, like any other small business, is cutting ties with a partner that continues to cut into our bottom line. On that level, this problem is really that simple.

"Of course, no system or business is perfect, but we have alternatives to Spotify that allow the band to be compensated in a more sustainable way, and without the need to associate ourselves with dangerous lies about public health policy.

"If you want to buy lossless digital versions of our entire catalogue, we encourage you to purchase our music on Bandcamp:

"If you want to stream our music, we continue to offer our music through Apple and other streaming services.

"We encourage other artists who want to be paid better for their music, and who don't want to be in business with a company who is comfortable jeopardizing the industry to which they owe their entire business model, to join us.

This all started when Young told Spotify earlier in January that they either pull The Joe Rogan Podcast off their platform after Young accused Rogan of "spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe this disinformation spread by them," or lose Young's music. Considering Spotify paid Rogan somewhere in the realm of $100 million for the exclusive rights to the podcast in 2020, you can guess who stayed. The backlash was immediate, and Spotify addressed the issue earlier this week alongside a statement from Rogan.

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