Advertising has never been a terribly sure thing. To be sure, there has long been a sort of dubiousness about commercials, which often expresses itself in a particularly jocular manner.
The paraphrasing of Mark Twain as,
“lies, damned lies and advertising’ being a perennial favorite.”
The odd thing is that there does not seem to be nearly the same healthy skepticism when it comes to other forms of advertising. Forms such as mottos, slogans or, as they are known today, ‘taglines.’
Boastful ones such as ‘we won’t be undersold’ or ‘the real thing,’ have given way, largely in the 21st century, to more conciliatory or even semi-philanthropic sentiments such as ‘have it your way’ or ‘you deserve a break today.’
New business, much like new media, has followed close behind its legacy predecessors. While companies such as Twitter still allow a slight boast, declaring themselves to be ‘what’s happening,’ competitors such as Facebook are going the new route, heralding themselves as ‘opening the world to like-minded people.’
By the same token, music streaming giant Spotify has always proclaimed itself to be the place with ‘music for everyone.’ Sadly, this claim holds about as much weight as a mayoral candidate promising free ice-cream on Sunday.
The road to hell
Such deception has not always been the realm of the online world. Having long ago learned from the mistakes of the past, the majority of online commercial entities at least attempted to be as direct and honest as they could be when it came to dealing with customers.
Even Amazon, which has developed a bit of a dodgy reputation when it comes to the delivered product living up the description, or even the image, advertised, has plausible deniability when it comes to product sold by outside retailers that they allow to sell through their site.
A shrewd move that increases profits while limiting responsibility to products they sell themselves
Cracks begin to show
The first signs of trouble began to show in 2013. In October of that year, a story in The Guardian reported that there had been something of an exodus of some of its most popular acts. Beginning with known contrarian Thom York or Radiohead fame, others including Black Keys and Amiee Mann soon followed suit in pulling all their material from the streaming site.
Even long-time Spotify supporters such as Metallica and Bob Dylan began to pull up stakes and cut their losses. Acts such as Garth Brooks and Led Zepplin were featured on the site without their agreement, and the less said about David Byrne’s comments on the whole debacle, the better.
Spotify at the crossroads
The decent into corporate shill-ism has only gotten deeper for Spotify in current days. As revealed in The Guardian on Saturday, Spotify will be limiting access to particular acts to paid, premium subscribers.
This in the wake of an agreement with some of the major players in the record industry. So it is less ‘music for everyone’ than some music for everyone. We all have to sell our soul sometimes I guess, and it is not always for virtuoso guitar skills.