David Crosby Rails Against the ‘Theft’ of Streaming Music
Having summarily dismissed ABBA as "dog poop," David Crosby has moved on to a different target: streaming services. Over the past few days on Twitter, he's been railing against the major platforms, saying they underpay artists and arguing with fans on the matter, while some of his fellow musicians have joined in the debate.
"I’ve been asked why I don’t stream," he tweeted on Tuesday. "Simply, I want musicians to have the ability to create new music. Buying vinyl, CD’s, merch, concert tickets allows artists to put a roof over their head, food on their table & allows them to create the music that becomes our daily soundtrack"
He tweeted out the most recent figures for the various services, showing that he receives fractions of a penny for each stream.
Peter Frampton put those fractions into actual dollars. "For 55 million streams of, ‘Baby I Love Your Way’, I got $1,700," he wrote. "I went to Washington with ASCAP last year to talk to law makers about this. Their jaws dropped and they asked me to repeat that for them."
When one fan said that streaming allows fans to discover more obscure music, he replied, "Does not make ok not to pay ....theft." Crosby then clarified to someone who didn't appreciate being called a thief. "You’re not the thief, the service is, "he wrote. "You’re paying for what you get. They’re not."
Another tried undercutting Crosby by comparing artists to a plumber getting paid to install a faucet, but not for every usage of the faucet. Crosby countered with, "Unless ....HE MADE THE DAMNED FAUCET you dummy."
He puts the bulk of the blame on the labels, saying that they "made a deal to sell out the artists by agreeing to a very very low rate in return for which they got ownership share in the streaming companies which the artist don’t get piece of ....clever ...shitty." He later added, "We weren’t represented in the deal ...purposefully left out so we could be taken advantage of."
His former Byrds bandmate Roger McGuinn backed him up, as has Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers. "I buy off of iTunes for portability, vinyl for sound," Tench wrote. "I’m fortunate to be able to do this. The streaming services are onto a good thing — for them — and won’t give any of it up easily. It’s terribly wrong. The real question is: why is music creators’ music considered less worthy of a fair purchase price than that of other workers? I know about the genie not going back in the bottle re streaming, but somebody writes, plays, sings, and records the music people listen to."
Crosby has continued debating the subject with his fans, and you can read some more of his exchanges below.