The Thirty-Second Rule:
Do We Need to Drop Advertising from Music Sites?
THE reasoning behind the first half of the title…
explains my opinion when it comes to advertising. We are told we should never eat food that has been dropped on the floor and remained there for longer than six seconds…or is it eight?! Anyway; we are given a very short time before it is safe to eat a hot dog that has been dropped on a carpet festooned with dog hair, rat droppings and dirt – and that is just the contents of the hot dog! It seems rather arbitrary given precise time because, for one, we never time it when we drop food and it is impossible to say exactly when a piece of food will spoil – I disregard the rule when it comes to sucking wine out of the carpet when I spilt it! My views on advertising differ, mind. We can quibble regarding the validity and purity of food – when it hits a sullied surface – but I am advocating we remove all advertising from music. One of the biggest disappointments from my time running this blog is seeing certain bands and artists give in to advertising.
PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
They have promoted brands and gained money from doing something rather nauseating and sell-out. None of them has taken pride from doing that but it seems like they have no choice – money is so tight they are doing it to fund their new record. I understand there is a school of thought that suggests music can enhance adverts and bring new music to young generations. I am not a fan of music being used in advertising, either. To me, the best way to discover new music is through the old-fashioned method of self-discovery…in the sense one buys records and looks on their own. Music is great in film and T.V. and is used to heighten a scene and convey emotion. There, the intention is to score a scene – one cannot do that with silence – and it is good mixing Classic scores with contemporary songs. Things are very different when it comes to T.V. advertising.
Here, there is no need to elevate a scene and articulate emotions dialogue cannot convey. All adverts are cheap, boring and/or embarrassing. Only a small few from history have managed to amaze the senses and stick in the memory – the fact they are flogging something like Guinness or Levi’s detracts from the artistic quality and visionary scope. I know great directors can cut their teeth/expand their C.V. directing adverts but it seems there are very few current legends. I would argue against the fact we need to have music in advertising: it is not the best way to bring music to people and is not what advertising is for. I think many assume advertising on streaming sites is a good way or bringing products and essential services to the people – that is the only rationale I can apply to that ‘logic’. I am happy to pay for streaming music on Spotify; for the sheer sense of freedom and not being harassed.
Before then, for every song, I was subjected to a violating and irritating advert for some crap or other – I have forgotten what it is for and happy I have, too! I understand why Spotify run adverts: they want to generate money and, if someone is not willing to pay for music, that is the way they earn their cash. Many are avoiding paying for the service but how is advertising going to convince them otherwise?! The tactic is, to avoid the adverts, you have to pay to get rid of them. That is like saying the only way to stop someone poking you in the eye is to buy their brand of sunglasses! The point of adverts is to promote a service and provide information to the public. If the only reason you have adverts on your site is to get people to pay then there is something ironic about the whole thing. One of the worst things about Spotify is that, in the past, they have produced adverts (audio) that feature a woman, in harrowing detail, talk about the time she was raped.
I don’t think it was an aimless and weird experiment: there was a service and reason why that was included on the site. Not only does one have to endure adverts but they have to listen to things that are upsetting and come without warning. Not only do the adverts feel obtrusive but they are very hard to mute and get rid of. You cannot bail and skip the adverts and, in a state of anger and distress, the user goes elsewhere or spends less time on the site. Before, one could get most of the way through an album before they had the advert pop in – now, it is, maybe, two or three tracks. I know Spotify needs to pay artists and, if they are to avoid the controversies of fair equity and compensation, that is what needs to be done. There are a couple of issues inherent. For one; I do not think advertising revenue is sufficient granted the amount of music that is streamed from the site – and the money that should be going to artists.
Acts DO make money from the site but it seems like a paucity. One needs to generate immense streaming figures to earn a tiny bit of money. Rather than force people to watch adverts and get annoyed: there should be a campaign that outlines the bonuses of Spotify and offers new tiers of membership and payment. Rather than get people to pay annual/monthly subscription – there are problems there – get them to do it with every song they download. It seems unfair the huge stars that command millions of streaming figures, and have a lot of money already, get the same sort of cuts as everyone else – and benefit most from Spotify. I feel, as a Premium user, I still do not pay enough. I use Spotify every day and feel like I stream more than I pay for. There are some that pay a subscription fee and do not really get value. If you are a casual user – streaming a couple of tracks a month – then is it fair they need to pay what they do?!
It seems there is a disparity between the new artists – who do not really earn anything from streaming sites – and the big artists who can easily amass money in no time. It is clear there needs to be a rethink and restructure but advertising is not the way to go about things. Everyone is annoyed by them and it is a reason why many are flocking elsewhere. There are ways advertisers can showcase their services on Spotify without it being embedded every time someone plays a song. We could have a separate section of the site that runs adverts or, for people who are using the site for free, they can be promoted to pay for what they are listening to – unless they do, they will be denied access. It seems harsh but that would get more people paying. Some do endure the adverts in the knowledge they can continue to use Spotify for free.
SoundCloud has started to put more adverts into their service. There was a time I could navigate and play songs without that interruption but, for some artists, they have adverts included. I am not sure whether this is a conscious decision or a service SoundCloud are trailing. We know money is a premium and there needs to be more given to artists. If people are ignoring adverts, thus, missing the point of them entirely; then what is the reason for using them? The worst offender of the pack is YouTube - that is where the title of this piece stems from. Everyone is familiar with the perils of YouTube. It offers a free service but, before you know it, a song you are listening to has an advert preface. There are no markers on videos that say there is going to be an advert – it would give one the chance to mute and avert their eyes. Whereas Spotify allows the user a chance to pay to get rid of adverts: YouTube forces one to ensure any hideous advert they want to throw our way.
Ironically, when sourcing this Variety article - the page was riddled with banners, adverts and all kinds of crap. I had to carefully click things away before I was sucked into their paid advertising.
“YouTube is getting rid of one of its first paid content models: The Google-owned video site announced Tuesday that it is discontinuing its paid channels initiative, effectively killing the option to sell the content of individual channels to paying subscribers. Instead, YouTube is expanding its sponsorship model, making it available to all YouTube Gaming creators and testing it with some creators within the main YouTube app.
YouTube first introduced paid channels in 2013 as its very first move into the subscription business. Initially launched with a few dozen content partners including the Sesame Workshop, NatGeo Kids and DHX Media, paid channels allowed creators to set their own price for subscriber-only channels on the service.
However, there were signs early on that YouTube’s audience didn’t care much for these paid channels, and the initiative has since been overshadowed by YouTube’s other monetization options, including the site-wide YouTube Red subscription service. At the last count, less than 1% of creators were making use of paid channels, according to YouTube.
One of the ways YouTube is now looking to replace paid channels is a patronage model. YouTube began testing sponsorships with select YouTube Gaming creators in late 2015, and is now making this additional revenue stream available to all of YouTube Gaming. Users can sponsor a creator for $4.99 a month, and in return get custom chat badges and custom emoji as well as access to a sponsor-only chat. Creators can even give them additional perks through third-party integrations”.
The scheme they trailed has not worked but it seems fair, if you want to watch a channel or subscribe to a vlog then a small fee is not out of the question. We could all afford a fiver a year to have unlimited access to our favourite channel, surely?! Not only would the creators get revenue but we could avoid adverts.
As it is; these channels rely on advertising so we get it shoved down the throat. What I object to is having to struggle and search endlessly to get rid of YouTube adverts. There is no easy link or button on the site that means we can block adverts. If there IS a way to get rid of adverts then why make it so hard to find?! There are few things more annoying than watching a video from, say, Jeff Buckley, and having to sit through a crappy advert for a dismal song – or a brand-new trainer, for instance. Nobody WANTS to see it and we are not going to drop what we are doing to see that advert! Most of their adverts are thirty seconds in length and some can be cancelled/skipped after five.
That is not always the case: some last over a minute and other thirty-second adverts force you to stay with them. During this time, we all mute the advert or look away – thus, defeating the objective of running that advert. I would be more than willing to pay for YouTube as I use it every day, too. My Spotify subscription is not too high so supplementing that with a YouTube payment is not going to break the bank. I would stick with the site and am more likely to leave given all the adverts I am made to watch. The fact nobody out there likes the adverts means they are being met with hostility and objection. Like Spotify; why not introduce a payment option that gives users the chance to pay for what they watch and dispense with the adverts. The way things are being run means musicians are not being fairly paid and people are being harassed with endless adverts and stuff they do not want to see/hear. I propose getting people to pay more for what they stream/view and putting advertising elsewhere.
PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
YouTube could easily have an advertising channel – if someone was sad enough to want to see adverts – and earn money that way. If users are not paying for the adverts, or buying products being advertised, then I struggle to see any logic. I suspect people’s personal details are being accessed every time they watch an advert. All of us have experienced banners and adverts flash up on Facebook – when we have watched a video on YouTube that has an advert with it. There has to be a better solution because, from the feedback I have heard, everyone wants to get things changed. Adverts are horrid and needless. Whereas music can be useful and needed in film: adverts and brands have no place in music.
PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
If one does not want to pay to stream/view music then that is their issue. It is not really fair assuming they want to watch adverts in exchange for a free service. Nobody is being given the option of paying for YouTube subscription and I feel many would sign up if that option was provided. Even if an advert is a thirty-second video; it appears people, myself included, have had enough. Money can be generated from the public and advertisers can have their wares included on these sites – away from the music and in a bespoke menu/sub-site. By giving people options and restructuring the way sites like Spotify and YouTube are funded; we are benefitting the public and artists. The users deserve a hassle-free environment – if they pay for services – and the artists need greater remuneration. Let’s sort things out and get rid of adverts so the people who use these sites can…
CONCENTRATE on the music alone.