Joanna Newsom's first album in five years, Divers, drops next week, but don't expect to find it on Spotify. The harp-playing singer-songwriter slammed the music-streaming service in a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times, calling it "the banana of the music industry," asserting that "it just gives off a fume. You can just smell that something's wrong with it."
Newsom said "Spotify is like a villainous cabal of major labels. The business is built from the ground up as a way to circumvent the idea of paying their artists." The California-based oddball's music is not available on any streaming services except for Pandora, which Newsom said she at least "understands the mechanics of." Sympathetic to Spotify's appeal to listeners, calling it "a genius idea", Newsom concluded the Los Angeles Times interview by expressing a longing for "a way to provide the service they provide and have nobody lose, nobody be victimized by that."
As Time points out, "Newsom's comments hint at the lack of transparency about how labels share streaming revenue with their artists." As New Yorker columnist John Seabrook explained last year, "Month by month, Spotify pays the major labels lump sums for the entire market share of their catalogues" while providing detailed data about the payments with the labels, but it remains up to the labels to divvy up these payments and share this information with their artists. According to Seabrook, "artists and songwriters basically have to trust that labels and publishers will deal with them honestly, which history suggests is a sucker's bet."
Joanna Newsom is not the first artist to come out so strongly against Spotify. You may recall when Taylor Swift argued that "music should not be free" in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal after she pulled her library from Spotify last year.
Divers is out on October 23 via Drag City. Revisit the video for the album's first single, "Sapokanikan," which was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, below.