Metal Blade Records Pulls Catalog from Spotify

First the news: Metal Blade Records have officially pulled their entire catalog from the streaming music service Spotify. This comes not long after Century Media did the same and after Earache assured fans their catalog was still on Spotify.

While issuing no formal statement, Metal Blade more than likely shares many of Century Media's sentiments, namely that Spotify would have to drastically increase payout rates before they feel it would be worth it. Century's argument hinged on looking out for the artists, who they feel would have their album sales -- and thus livelihoods -- undercut by the streaming music service.

Now, for the opinion:

Much of the commentary around Century Media's decision to pull out of Spotify was centered around whether or not Century were right in their decision -- whether Spotify was truly bad, whether they were just fighting the future, whether the artists suffered our not, etc. And while these are all valid things to argue (and have been argued quite well by the guys over at Metal Sucks), I think the bigger point was: Would any of it matter if Century were the only label that did it?

Think of it this way: If the majority of music fans have decided that $10/month is what unlimited streaming music is worth, and yet one label says, "No, we feel our music is worth more, and fans should buy our albums for $10 to 15," then that one label will likely be out of business very quickly. That's not to say the label is wrong by any means; that's just how the market works.

If Century is going to make a dent at all in their stance, they're going to need company -- a united front, if you will. If you're a metal fan and you're down with the whole music streaming thing, Century pulling their catalog from Spotify might not be enough for you to give up on the service as you still have the catalogs of Metal Blade, Nuclear Blast, Earache, Relapse, SPV, Roadrunner, Napalm, etc., to choose from, along with the smattering of metal artists on major labels.

Will Metal Blade joining Century be enough to deter metal fans from the service all together and make Spotify rethink their payout model? Probably not. But it could very well be the start of something that could. All eyes are now on the rest of the independent labels, metal and otherwise, to see if they'll follow suit. Fingers crossed, we'll end up with the best of both worlds -- an affordable, incredibly fast streaming music service and healthy payout rates for artists.

It's time to sound off in the comments! Do you feel streaming music services pose a bigger threat to album sales than piracy? It is even reasonable to expect any but the biggest bands to be able to make a living playing music these days? Should labels become more like managers and engage in tour support and merchandising so that neither label nor artist has to rely solely on album sales? Tell us what you think!

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.