The CEO billionaire of the music streaming platform Spotify, Daniel Ek, recently stated in an interview that:
“a “narrative fallacy” had been created and caused music fans to believe that Spotify doesn’t pay musicians enough for streams of their music. “Some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape,” Ek said, “where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.””
“What’s worth noting is that there is, however, a REALLY interesting conversation to be had about creativity, work rate, product vs process, aesthetics, the affordances of releasing stuff digital-only. It’s just that the billionaire who’s lobbying to pay musicians and songwriters less can fuck off out of it.
There are few people on the planet whose opinion on ‘what musicians should do’ I hold in lower regard than Daniel Ek. Like, Trump-level irrelevance as an opinion holder on anything.
Once again for the people at the back – fuck this guy.”
Some people weighed in on the matter emphasizing how the music industry is quickly turning into a world of quantity over quality:
As we wrote in a previous article here on Shouts it is “well known how badly Spotify and many other streaming services pay the creators for streamed or bought music. That is excluding though, a handful of services like Bandcamp, for example, who don’t charge a penny for streaming but instead make their money from revenue share on sales.”
Somehow though, when journalists make up graphs and images or write about streaming services they seem to always leave Bandcamp out of their ‘research’.
Artist’s Voice is a collaboration between Freemuse and Shouts – Music from the Rooftops!. The collaboration aims to provide a platform for artists to share their stories, in their own words, brought to light through interviews published on a shared blog. The blog is available on Shouts and Freemuse websites as well as on corresponding social media channels.
Interviews are undertaken by Shouts managing editor Halldór H Kristínarson. All interviews will be published in the artist’s own words. Cover image: M-Josh (real name Matthew Joshua Chukwubuikem) / Reuse with modifications from M-Josh on Instagram.
Freemuse and Shouts believe that the right to freedom of artistic expression is a right for all and will work together to create a platform for these expressions.
Freemuse and Shouts cooperated on the below interview of Nigerian musician M-Josh. M-Josh was threatened by a member the Nigerian army for the song Movie In Aso Rock concerning human rights violations and the military in Nigeria.
Halldór: Thank you for participating with Shouts and Freemuse for this joint interview. For those out there that are not familiar with your music, can you please introduce yourself to the world? Who is M-Josh?
M-Josh: First of all, my name is Matthew Joshua Chukwubuikem. I am from Eastern Nigeria; I am a musician and an activist. I am not just an ordinary musician; I make reasonable music capable of bringing positive change to society.
Halldór: You recently received threats from Nigerian military personnel because of your song Movie in Aso Rock. Why did this soldier get so upset about your music and lyrics, in your opinion? For those of us who do not understand the language in the video, can you explain what the song is about?
M-Josh: In the first place, Movie In Aso Rock is a musical piece of art that I used to explain the drama in the Government of Nigeria. A lot of unthinkable things happen, and no one is held accountable. The politicians do anything they like and get away with it.
Halldór: Have you always made conscious music or used your music in protest? How did you start making music and using your voice to try to send positive messages out into the cosmos?
M-Josh: Initially, music was just entertainment for me. But there is a popular saying that ‘he whose house is on fire doesn’t chase rats’. I decided to switch totally to conscious music due to the decay in my society; music is a vital tool to reach out and bring positive change while trying to entertain.
Halldór: Are you worried about your safety?
M-Josh: Of course, I am. Nigeria, as it is today, is a lawless nation, shit happens, and nobody cares. Politicians commit all sorts of atrocities, and if anyone tries to speak up, they come after them with their police, army or even send assassins.
Halldór: What kind of security adjustments have you had to make recently?
M-Josh: Well, that is personal.
Halldór: How important is it for you to represent your culture in your music, and why? In your experience, how do you feel that people outside of Africa view the Nigerian people?
M-Josh: I believe history has not been fair on my people and the culture in general. Lots of deliberate attempts have been made to re-write the story and culture of the African people. Nigeria, the Eastern Nigeria has been hit hard by western influence, and only a few people are doing well to represent and tell the true story. I have watched my culture been gradually eroded. It is very sad to say that the Nigerian people are not well represented outside Africa. This is due to bad leadership and also a western conspiracy. I discussed that a bit in my soon to be released song Stories Of Africa.
Halldór: What is your take on music and activism, and do you think the two should be intertwined or separated?
M-Josh: Music is a vital tool used to get information across to people easily, it is entertainment, and it brings people together. If you want to sell an ideology, use music. Activism on its own is basically a campaign to bring about positive political or societal change. You have a big tool if you fuse your ideology into music and sell it to the people. I feel music should accompany activism.
Halldór: How does general activism fit into your everyday life? Is it all through the music or are there causes that you fight for outside of your work?
M-Josh: Even if I wasn’t a musician, I would still be into activism. I hate seeing things go wrong around me. I always stand up against oppression, be it in music or in my day to day activities.
Halldór: Can you describe the music scene where you live? Are there many musicians, like yourself, that use their voice for good?
M-Josh: Music is entertainment, and it is thriving in African and Nigeria precisely. There are lots of good musicians over here though a lot of them don’t feel it is important to use their music the way I do. Some do though.
Halldór: What is on the horizon for you? Musically or otherwise?
M-Josh: In the future, I hope to reach the world with my message. I like good things, and I have my personal goals too.
Halldór: Is there anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops to the whole world?
M-Josh: As much as you can, try to attract positive change. Let’s make this world a better place, let’s make it that heaven we all aim at.
Scotland and Barcelona; two places that are not only both fighting for their sovereignty but also two places that support each other. Louis Rive is a singer-songwriter that now has a relationship with both of these places and they have become, in part, what he writes music about.
Louis tells stories (with beautifully strong Scottish R’s), with the aid of his guitar and proudly keeps alive a path that artists before him lay down. He writes on his Bandcamp page that he has met “every type of person there is to meet” in the past decade or so because of his work. I contacted Louis from my temporary home on the other side of Spain and asked him about his music, his own story and his mysterious work that allowed him to meet such fascinating people worthy of being put into song.
Halldór Kristínarson: First of all, for those not familiar with your work, who is Louis Rive?
Louis Rive: I am a singer-songwriter currently in Barcelona but soon to be in Glasgow. If we are going down the nationality route, I am Scottish. My music is rooted in a folk tradition, but not about goblins and faeries or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional folk music, but my songs are there to narrate modern life; identity, political ineptitude, modern imperialism and the world of work.
HK: You mention in the text about your album The Cheap Part of Town that you have met a lot of interesting people, some of whom become part of your stories. What is this work you have partaken in?
LR: I’ve worked many jobs. Here are a few. Bell boy, cleaner, filleting chicken in an industrial kitchen, pot wash, bookie, Georgian-themed human statue, ghost in a haunted house, primary school teacher, translator, Christmas tree salesman.
There are more if I think about it, but these are probably a good start.
HK: You just released a new single ‘Where Do We Go From Here’. Can you tell us a bit about the song and its content?
LR: The song was inspired by events taking place in Scotland at the moment. Scotland has a dark past, one which clashes a bit with the stereotypical, tartan-tinged image of an indefatigable small nation. I have no doubt that we can become that nation, but to get there we have to acknowledge where we came from; it’s the basis for everything. Recent events in George Square, Glasgow, showed a face off between right–wing groups defending statues and left-wing ones advocating said statues’ removal. All the while the police maintained an uneasy presence in the middle. It was like Scotland in miniature; people focused on the past while others sought to define an alternative future, all the while the state maintaining a status quo that no-one benefits from. Past, present and future, ‘Where Do We Go from Here?’
HK: Has your music always been political or made in protest?
LR: Political no, not always. It started as a way to highlight the absurdity of modern life; this conveyor belt of work, consumption, kids, mortgage and death that I always felt was the elephant in the room when it came to modern living. The political aspect was an extension of this. Nina Simone, and I paraphrase, said that it is the duty of musicians to give voice to those faced with injustice. There is no shortage of injustice at the moment, especially in the UK, so the combination of Brexit, institutional racism towards BAME communities, police brutality, inept government and the financial impossibility facing young people at the moment brought out these particularly political protest songs.
HK: How did it happen that you moved to Barcelona, Spain? How is the music scene there, especially protest music, different from your home country the UK?
LR: I’d like to be honest about it. I ended up in Barcelona as a stop on the Caledonian lager train around Europe, it was coincidence. I was living a life of fairly meaningless nihilism and Barcelona catered to that. When I arrived I knew very little of either the music scene or the political situation. I don’t pass comment on things I don’t know well enough, but I will say this. Social change needs a soundtrack, whatever that may be. The Catalan language lends itself well to this, and pre-covid there were many cultural events that supported the independence cause; the two were inseparable. Music’s power should not be underrated with regards to social change, and I hope I can play a part in this idea of social change through culture when I return to Scotland.
HK: What is your take on music and activism and whether the two should be intertwined or separated?
LR: Well, it’s up to the musician really. I completely abhor the idea of people’s music being used to support causes that don’t represent the artist’ views, something very evident by the use of music at Trump rallies, and closer to home the Brexit campaign. On a personal level, I write my music with the idea of narrating the injustices of life and attempting to spark constructive debate, so I would say that my music IS my activism. However, it is each to their own, art is personal and it is up to each artist to use their art as they see fit.
HK: What’s your take on the socially conscious music scene in Barcelona? Do you feel there is a rich environment of artists using their voices responsibly or not enough?
LR: The issue with socially conscious music as you put it, or at least the issue that I find, is that it is very polarising: people either love it or hate it. Music, for a lot of people, is escapism and many people don’t want to hear about the drudgery of modern life when it is something that they live day in, day out. That’s their choice as the listener, and I respect that. In terms of musicians it is the same. There are plenty of artists here in Spain who use their voice to highlight social issues, especially in the world of hip-hop and rap, but the lines of free speech in the country are becoming draconian in their clarity, as can be seen by the exile of rapper Valtònyc and the jailing of Pablo Hásel.
LR: I am taking my music to Scotland in July. The current situation isn’t amazingly hopeful, both musically and politically, but I feel I can become part of a scene that lends its voice to positive social change. I would like to record a new album this winter, restrictions permitting.
HK: Anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?
LR: Sure. It is a really tough time for musicians, many of whom are basically facing artistic extinction. If you like the music that I do, or it speaks to you, then I ask you to share it. Writing what is in effect protest music, is a grassroots game. Building momentum and listenership is crucial, not just for my music, but for thousands of other musicians whose words may go unheard. For this reason sharing is crucial.