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Local support needed for Spotify to impact streaming numbers - Harding

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2021 | 12:09 AMShereita Grizzle/Staff Reporter
Popular streaming platform Spotify announced on Monday that it would be expanding to more than 80 new markets, including Jamaica.
Popular streaming platform Spotify announced on Monday that it would be expanding to more than 80 new markets, including Jamaica.
Producer Jeremy Harding says Spotify in Jamaica may not have the desired effect many yearn for.
Producer Jeremy Harding says Spotify in Jamaica may not have the desired effect many yearn for.
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Music producer Jeremy Harding says local support is needed for Spotify to impact streaming numbers for Jamaican artistes and podcasters. On Monday, the popular streaming platform announced that it would be expanding to more than 80 new markets, including Jamaica.

The news was met with general excitement from industry professionals. It is believed that the platform becoming available in Jamaica will boost streaming numbers for the island’s artistes and podcasters. But while the prospect brings hope for improved streams, Harding says Spotify in Jamaica may not have the desired effect many yearn for.

“We already had Apple Music being launched in Jamaica, and Apple being here has not made any significant impact. Our artistes have not made any great gains,” Harding said. Apple Music expanded to 52 countries, including Jamaica, in April 2020.

The producer notes the unwillingness of Jamaican fans to pony up the subscription fee as one possible hindrance. “There is a hope that if an artiste releases a song and on YouTube [and] it gets to a million views, it will get the same million views on Spotify. The dream is that the viewers and listeners on YouTube will migrate to Spotify, that the Jamaican fans locally who support music they will now support it on Spotify, but the fact of the matter is that Jamaicans not paying US$9.95 a month for any streaming service,” he said.

The other hindrance is: Jamaicans also have a well-nurtured appetite for free music. Adding another paid platform will bring the same results. “Culturally, Jamaicans are not accustomed to paying for music in any form. When we had physical records in Jamaica, you still had to have a foreign/smash hit to be able to make a dent in the market or see any real money. Nobody really bought 45s. When we had 99 cents downloads, nobody paid for downloads. We all ripped music for free and shared it. People are just not going to pay for it,” the producer shared.

Harding hopes he will be proved wrong but maintains that for Jamaica’s addition to the Spotify list to make any real impact, Jamaicans would have to support by paying for their subscription. “It’s an additional stream of income that artistes may not have had before, but it’s incremental. It’s not saving the industry. It’s not going to be like, ‘Hey, great Spotify is here now we can all eat a food’. Yes, there is a part of Spotify that’s free, but the rate of payment on the free part is substantially less than on the paid, so it’s going to take an artiste right back down to the same YouTube-style numbers, to be honest,” he said

He also notes that Spotify’s addition will have no drastic effect on the Billboard chart if it is not supported. “How many people in Jamaica are going to stream to make numbers go so significantly up that Billboard is going to recognise it? We have three million people in Jamaica. How many people are actual streamers on a regular basis? How many people are going to put the Spotify app on their phone and stream the music?” he asked.

For Harding, it all boils down to support. “As a music producer, of course, I would want to see Jamaica upgrade to the standard of the world, and we start really using these platforms and supporting our artistes but let’s be real here, it (Spotify) being here is not going to make enough of a dent to impact any of those things without some strong support. I hope to be wrong because I would love to see a day when Jamaicans pick up Spotify and pay for their account and switch from saying lemme use the free platform, but I haven’t seen it happen yet with any of the other platforms that have been here,” he said.

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com