Jon Irwin on the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Spotify

It was reported Friday that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have made their entire catalog available exclusively on Spotify; however, Rhapsody will continue to carry much of the band’s seminal and most noteworthy material, including Freaky Styley, Mothers Milk, What Hits!? and others.

Overall, this is a positive development for the streaming sector.  The Chili Peppers—who have previously withheld music from all streaming services—are now seeing the benefit of making all their content available on-demand.  While this is an indication that streaming services are becoming required for artists as more music lovers embrace the model, the Chili Peppers would have better served their fans by making their content available to all their fans, on their fans’ service of choice – instead of only on the service that brought the band the biggest check.

Rhapsody has more paying subscribers than any service in the United States, with more than one million music lovers who value music and happily pay to access our 15-million song catalog.  There are many Chili Peppers fans on Rhapsody and the other services who would have been excited to finally be able to listen to the entirety of band’s catalog, and we would have been excited to send out those royalty checks.  It’s a lost opportunity for all,  but especially for fans.

The obvious motivation for such deals is that exclusivity will drive users to Spotify, but is that what we should be really focusing on? There are many reasons people choose a music service.   At Rhapsody, we believe it’s all about creating an experience centered around the paying subscriber: the music they want, on the device they choose, with the ability to discover new artists and old favorites through robust editorial programming and rich recommendations. Moreover, those paying subscribers will generate more revenue for artists over a lifetime of usage than do users of free services.

Each one of us at Rhapsody is passionate about delivering the best music experience, and we would argue that as an industry, it’s what we all should be doing.  At this critical stage, our industry should be focused on creating value for all—the artists, the fans and the labels—not for some. These are still early days for streaming services, and anything that limits the core benefit of an on-demand music service—all the music you want, whenever you want it—will limit the potential for everyone.

We are deeply passionate about the future prospects of music as a service because it provides long term value to the customer and a lifetime of continuous revenue for artists and rights-holders. That’s why we are doggedly determined to work with artists, management and the labels until the day that the Rhapsody catalog is complete. Limiting on-demand access to music in any form—whether it’s an exclusive on a free service or withholding it from streaming services for a limited time—erodes the value of the service for fans and limits a band’s earning potential in the long-run.

We all know that it’s the fans that keep the music alive—in our hearts and as a viable vocation for artists. Business arrangements that leave music fans out in the cold may be attractive for bands in the short-term, but may have long-term negative consequences. Let’s keep the music alive and streaming.

-Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody International