Let it never be said that Neil Young is not a man of his word. A few weeks ago, Young derided the audio quality of streaming services like Spotify and vowed to remove his tunes from their catalog. As of today, it looks like he (mostly) made good on that and had the majority of his music stripped from Apple Music, Spotify, and other similar services. If you were hoping to stream Harvest to get through your hump day, you are out of luck, my friend.
Neil Young certainly isn’t the first artist to tackle the streaming music conundrum, but he’s certainly one of the first to vocally attack the services’ quality. You’ll find plenty of musicians none too pleased about the dollars and cents of music streaming, but few have stepped forward to in the arena of quality versus quantity. It’s an interesting argument and one that certainly would have been addressed sooner or later. If the millions of Spotify subscribers tells us anything, it’s that many music fans are willing to trade quality for access to a vast catalog.
This is, perhaps, a larger discussion about the value of music. More and more, access to music seems to trump ownership, and that is something the industry has to reconcile with. Record stores are becoming a rarity and the dependency on the cloud to stream music has become commonplace. The question is, does that somehow devalue music and artists? Does the fact someone chooses to listen to Katy Perry’s Roar on Spotify a 100 times a day make the song less significant (it’s a good song, I don’t care what you say)? More importantly, should artists dictate how consumers enjoy their tunes? Questions for another, I suppose.
In the meantime, if you want to enjoy some Neil Young other than the five albums he did with Geffen Records (which are now owned by Universal Music) then you’ll have buy them. As a guy who spends a fortune on vinyl, this is a notion that doesn’t bother me at all. However, something tells me that other music fans might just be listening to a lot less Neil Young now.