Spotify Alternatives? There’s Plenty, but None Are Particularly Ethical

Lists, Recommendations

Haven’t you heard? Everyone’s ditching Spotify. Neil Young made waves last week demanding Spotify either remove his music from their platform or put a stop to the Fear Factor guy spewing COVID misinformation. Spotify sided with the Meathead pushing horse dewormer. In solidarity, some of Neil’s friends removed their own catalogs from the streaming platform as well. There is one problem with the current “Ditch Spotify” movement: no great alternatives. 

There are three major ethical reasons to leave the streaming giant. The first being the previously mentioned platform of disinformation. As we saw during Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency, a platform legitimizes crazy. Paying subscribers must ask if they want to continue paying into a service that promotes conspiracy theories which help a disease continue to kill thousands of Americans per day. Spotify has spent hundreds of millions on developing podcast content. This commitment to preserving their initial investment will only continue. 

The second reason to find a new place for music makes it very hard for any person to compete. Spotify pays artists less than pennies. It would seem that is a pattern amongst all of their top competitors as well. Streaming as a medium for interacting with artists is crippling an industry. It is unfortunate, but very little of your $10ish goes to any of the artists you listen to. Spotify is certainly one of the worst offenders. Don’t take it from me, though. T-Pain said it too, so you know I’m telling the truth.  

The final reason to detach from Spotify is that it has grown too big. Like Facebook, Google, or Amazon before them; they are now the bad guys. I don’t really know why it always seems to go this way. One minute, an aspiring tech company is doing a lot of cool work and engaging with its users and the next, it’s destroying competitors and trying to manipulate its customers into addictive patterns. Spotify hasn’t jumped the shark just yet, and the fact they are still primarily controlled by Swedes has me hopeful Fonzi will keep his skis on the water. 

So, with all that said, here are some alternatives for you to consider along with the pros and cons each provides in comparison to Spotify. As of publishing, there haven’t been that many musicians indirectly related to Neil Young (Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren have been close to Neil since the 60s). If more decide to jump on, there may be non-ethical reasons to find a new music platform anyway.

5 Spotify Alternatives of Varied Ethical Standards

  1. BUY MUSIC DIRECTLY FROM THE ARTIST. This is honestly the only way to keep your hands clean. Make effective use of Bandcamp, Soundcloud, your local record store, and artist-run websites to grow a personal library and then use a self-hosted server such as Plexamp to be able to stream wherever you’d want. If that sounds too complex, just buy an ipod classic (do they still make those?)
  2. Apple Music is next up in our choices for a few reasons. You still have the ability to buy music outright should you choose, the app interface is fantastic, and Apple is definitely the least evil of the evil. Its streaming service reportedly pays better than Spotify, and it exerts a little more control over the podcasts it allows. Really though, it just doesn’t have an understudy from The Man Show spreading anti-vax rumors and will work great for your iPhone.
  3. For us Android degenerates, number two just won’t work. Tidal offers a hifi option for audiophiles and, according to T-Pain, pays artists pretty well. Its content is pretty close to that of Apple or Spotify, too. The big issue is that Kanye West is a primary owner and if anyone wishes he were head of a big evil tech conglomerate, it’s Kanye. 
  4. If you are willing to work with apps with less-than-perfect song catalogs and even worse app design, try Deezer or Napster (yes! It still exists!). They’re both fine. Just fine. 
  5. If you still aren’t satisfied, there’s Youtube Music (formerly Google Music) or Amazon Music. There is no ethical reason to choose either of these over Spotify. Youtube and Amazon are both rife with misinformation all over the place and neither pay artists well.. If you are already using these companies’ other services, the music subscription may just make it easier to keep everything in one place, I guess.