Spotify has become one of the most ubiquitous and successful online music streaming services by providing access to a huge collection of music by almost every artist you can think of for free (with ads) or for just $10 a month (for the ad-free service). Music streaming has changed the landscape of the music industry in the last few years, giving consumers even further reason to not purchase the music they listen to (and pushing album sales to plummet to all-time lows).
Spotify, in particular, has been called out for paying artists very little, even though the company claims to give back much of its revenue to musicians. Obviously, this doesn’t sit will with certain famous artists who, in return for what they believe are Spotify’s manipulative practices, refuse to give the service access to their music. Case in point? Taylor Swift famously pulled her entire back catalog off the streaming service in protest of its business model back in 2014, although she recently added it back (reportedly in celebration of her fifth studio album, 1989, selling 10 million copies worldwide).
While Swift may have returned to the service, several big names still remain off Spotify until this day. Here are 10 high-profile artists whose music is not currently available on Spotify.
Prince made a ludicrous amount of music during his impressive career, dropping nearly one studio album per year between his 1978 debut and his untimely death in 2016. And that’s to say nothing of the EPs, demos, and internet-only releases he put out alongside them. It’s a stunning body of work that you can’t find on Spotify, because Prince didn’t play that game. He was always an artist who wanted as much control over his music as possible, even scrawling the word “slave” on his cheek during a dispute with Warner Bros. over the rights to his music. You can find Prince’s tunes on Tidal, but Spotify subscribers shouldn’t hold their breath.
2. Garth Brooks
Country singer Garth Brooks is so old-fashioned that he doesn’t even sell his music on iTunes due to his belief in the album as an art form. The ironic thing is that Brooks owns his own master recordings, so unlike most artists who only make royalties he’d actually stand to make a decent cut from streaming. According to Forbes, in 2014 Brooks was the top-selling artist of the past 20 years, but the new comeback the singer is planning will likely show just how hard it is to get people to listen to anything that’s not on Spotify or iTunes. Brooks will be making his new album available digitally for the the first time, but only from his official website.
As one of the main investors in streaming service Tidal, it’s no surprise that rapper and business mogul Jay-Z has yanked much of his own catalog off Spotify and made it exclusive to his own company. Fans looking to hear his critically acclaimed sixth studio album, The Blueprint, won’t be able to find it on Spotify, as the artist had it removed from every major digital service except Tidal.
Some of his other major works, including Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint 3, are also currently only available on Tidal.
Maynard James Keenan, the brain behind the alternative metal band, Tool, has insisted that the band’s music remain unavailable on Spotify and even iTunes due to his belief in the album as the ideal art form, according to Spin’s (slightly outdated) list of some artists who don’t do the whole streaming thing. Keenan only wants the band’s music to be consumed in the form of the full albums they create, so that’s the only way that fans can purchase their music. Tool has never even allowed their music to be split up by their label into a greatest hits album.
5. Thom Yorke
It’s not such a surprise to see Thom York’s music missing from Spotify, seeing as in an interview with the Mexican website Sopitas (as translated by The Guardian), he called the service, “then last desperate fart of a dying corpse.” While the outspoken musician’s band Radiohead did acquiesce and put its music on the service, York’s solo project has not appeared on Spotify — and presumably won’t anytime soon.
6. Bob Seger
Detroit classic rock singer-songwriter Bob Seger is another one of digital music’s staunchest holdouts, with almost none of his music available digitally. While his newest album will be available on iTunes, classics like Night Moves and Against the Wind are not, and none of his music is on Spotify.
When Rolling Stone recently asked Seger why he doesn’t put his entire catalog on the streaming service, Seger said, “It’s an ongoing issue with my manager and Capitol Records. You have to talk to him about that. They agreed to something many years ago about new media and they don’t want to live up to it. The record business is 50 percent of what it was ten years ago, so they’re trying to cut costs. Until that’s resolved, we let very little out.”
Rolling Stone pushed a little further and asked if the bureaucracy issues frustrate him and Seger responded, “Yeah, it does. I wish people could get any song at any time.” It seems once Seger gets some business sorted out his music might become a little easier to access.
While you can find Beyoncé’s older albums on Spotify, you won’t find her mega-hit Lemonade anywhere on the service. That’s because it’s exclusive to the streaming service Tidal, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s not much of a surprise, seeing as Tidal is owned by Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z. Speaking of Jay Z, his album The Blueprint isn’t on Spotify either.
8. Dr. Dre
You don’t have to know much about hip hop music to know that Dr. Dre is an important figure in the genre. But only one of his albums is available on Spotify, leaving the rest, including 1992’s The Chronic, out of reach for subscribers. That’s not too surprising, seeing as Dr. Dre was a founder of Beats Electronics, which had its own competing subscription service called Beats Music until Apple bought the company and turned it into Apple Music. So, if you want to stream The Chronic, you’d better look elsewhere.
9. King Crimson
King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp has never made any bones about demanding fair payment for the rock band’s musical output. So you can probably see why he’s not crazy about putting that music on a streaming service that’s famous for paying musicians a pittance. In other words, don’t expect to rock out to King Crimson on Spotify — or any other streaming service — anytime soon.
10. Joanna Newsom
The music of Joanna Newsom is often described as psychedelic folk, an apt description for her musical concoctions, which sound like a mishmash of styles coming together. You should listen to it if you haven’t, but you won’t be able to do that on Spotify. Why? In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, 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.” Ouch.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado
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