We at Little Brown Jug Brass have been stoked to play our Album Release Party at the Ironwood on February 20th. The primary purpose of our engaging in a recording project was to share some of our quirky music with a larger, farther-reaching audience. We wanted to share our joy with all the folks who couldn’t get out to hear us perform live.
In the early planning stages of the project, I thought we would just release our EP on BandCamp.com. As a fan, I love BandCamp as they do their very best to support the artists involved. I hadn’t considered releasing the album any other way. We weren’t going to make CD’s and I, as a fan, don’t tend to like or use streaming services. I’ll admit, I still don’t fully understand why people pay a monthly fee to listen to the radio.
When I shared my plans with friends, the band, and professionals in the music industry, I was consistently told that if I wanted to get our music heard, I should go to where the widest audience is possible. Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon streaming services are where we had to submit. So, I reconsidered the plan and thought ‘ok then, that’s where we’ll put our energy.’
We released our first single, Take On Me, on January 12, 2022. Then began our initial communications letting our fans (lovingly known as ‘Jugheads’) around the world know we were on Spotify with the request that they follow us and listen to our music. During the week of January 24, Spotify blew up in the worst way with Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and others pulling their catalogs off of the streaming service as well as an over $2 Billion hit to the service’s stock shares.
Young (and others) made this choice due to concerns about Joe Rogan’s podcast. In a message on his website on Friday, Young said he “felt better” for leaving Spotify. “Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information,” he wrote. “I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”
LBJB is a decidedly values-based and community-oriented band. So here I am wanting to promote my band and share our music with our fanbase around the world (and after a year-long process finally being able to do so) but I now have concerns about one of the services we chose to use. Do I limit the band’s potential success at being heard on the most ‘popular’ streaming service because I agree with other artists that the truth, and caring for others in our community, is more important than success? If I pulled our catalog off of Spotify (which at the moment consists only of our first single release) it wouldn’t make a difference to Spotify. I could see the headline now. “Spotify says ‘Little Brown WHO?’” However, if I continue to use this service to promote our music, what am I implicitly agreeing with or supporting in that decision?
Since I initially started writing this post, Spotify (and Joe Rogan himself) have agreed to at least offer warnings and attempt a more ‘balanced’ representation of topics which literally have life and death consequences. But why did it take such an outcry to get a miniscule (and common sense) change in policy. And what about the extremely uneven distribution of profits whereby the creators and people doing the work are getting percentages of pennies while all the hard-earned profits flow upwards?
Due to the nature of our own band, we have the luxury of not depending on profits from our recordings to make a living – a luxury many of our brilliant artist friends do not have. We’ve decided to stay on Spotify and the other streaming services for now – but we will always take pride in directing people to the site where we purchase our music, BandCamp.
Keep an eye out for our original tune, Rhythm Nectar scheduled to release on February 8.
You can also join us at our Album Release Party on February 20th at the Ironwood by reserving your tickets https://ironwoodstage.ca/contact/ where we are raising funds for PhilKids, the CPO’s Sistema-inspired after school music education program.
You could also immediately support PhilKids by directly donating online and noting that your donation is ‘in honour of PhilKids.’ https://calgaryphil.com/support/make-a-donation/ Any donation over $20 will generate a tax receipt.