spotify

Streaming - Another Capitalist Enclosure

Photo by Todd Walberg

Photo by Todd Walberg

While technology can be a beautiful and powerful tool, when technology is monopolized for profit, it can be a nightmare. Streaming companies have become even more consolidated than the major labels were at the height of their power. So we thought to ourselves: "What the fuck?" and "We thought the internet was supposed to be beautiful and powerful?" But it is the same as ever, the capitalists have taken another public good and built a wall around it. It's true, this time the wall is prettier than the last one the major labels built, but artists still have no real power inside this new enclosure. We can't negotiate contracts with Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and the rest. They want to use our music to sell the attention of our listeners to their advertisers. They want to use our music to rake in subscription dollars for themselves while musicians have no opportunity to negotiate for what they'll get in return. This lack of choice leads to serious consent problems for artists. In the interest of brevity, this all comes down to distribution. When distribution is controlled by the few, the many suffer. We didn't distribute our album with any digital streaming platforms and we hope more bands will do the same. We know that all of this is not interesting to most music listeners, but we may not be for all listeners, sorry!

If you are interested in internet stuff, and larger structural issues surrounding consolidated power within societies, Bim wrote a lengthy piece titled "Death, Taxes, and Data: A Memorial to the Throne" on these things for Watt Magazine. You can read it here: https://watt.cashmusic.org/writing/deathtaxesdata

"Idiot" - About the Release

And And And is not distributing their album through any digital streaming platforms and here’s why:

It’s clear to the band that the internet is a conscious entity which feeds on all activity online. It has no regard for any of us. It is smarter than we are. We don’t know how to communicate with it. We only know how it is affecting us. We made it on accident. We thought we were just connecting to each other but we were building a global brain on a scale unimaginable. This entity is now awake and has totally alien goals. It derives power from the most centralized parts of its mind: large social platforms, the NSA server farms, and right down the line to places like YouTube and Spotify. It devours all actions taken on any of its power-centers we call platforms. This renders our morals and goals obsolete by harvesting power from all sides of all issues online. It grows these platforms to sizes where we become almost totally dependent on them, and on the internet consciousness entity itself. It’s a trap!

The band calls this entity, Bragi. An example of how Bragi operates and effects us is streaming platforms. On these, artists have no choice over which advertisers and brands they are associated with, no influence over how any of it is priced, and almost no say over how their music is presented. Bragi’s platforms say: exposure helps artists grow so they can succeed later, elsewhere, maybe. This devalues music, now, everywhere, definitely. Bragi doesn’t care how much music is worth. Bragi only cares about increasing Bragi’s food source. 

Bragi’s streaming platforms have become so dominant that they are considered the inevitable future of the music industry. The more control Bragi has over the menu, the worth, and the presentation of all music, the more Bragi can manipulate it as a whole to fit brag’s goals. Bragi used this process on every industry digitized so far: music, journalism, literature, film, and others. Bragi’s goal is infinite growth and Bragi’s method is consolidation of power. 

And And And is increasingly worried about how much power we are giving to Bragi in trade for the conveniences Bragi’s platforms offer us. The band likes the idea of the internet, but not if it’s alive and greedy. What if Bragi could control how we access and express the majority of our art, speech, and social behavior? If this happened, would that make Bragi responsible for the future of our culture and society? Would Bragi act responsibly with this power? Has Bragi acted responsibly so far? What if the band is just being paranoid? What if they are not? And And And find Bragi terrifying. They think it would be wise to move closer to how the internet was originally envisioned: not conscious of itself, decentralized, anti-capitalist, pro-information, anarchic. If this means the band can’t reach as many people online, so be it. And And And refuses to fall into Bragi’s trap. 

Over the years, the band has learned how to do the complex work of being a band and they enjoying doing it. They are self-releasing. They manage themselves. They tour. They make their own music videos. They built a soundproof practice space in their drummer’s basement. They do their own physical and digital distribution. They are offering free album downloads and streaming through their own website (andandandmusic.com) which they have protected against Bragi with ancient rituals. These rituals involve: artistic freedom, powerful autonomous communities of creativity, and choice over what one ultimately does with the things they create. This way, And And And can offer their listeners an experience that is safe from Bragi’s parasitic methods and authoritarian goals.