The wildly prolific rock ‘n’ roller Ty Segall just released his ninth full-length album (also called Ty Segall) in January, but you won’t find it streaming on Spotify or Apple Music. In part, that’s because Segall’s label Drag City doesn’t stream any of its catalog, including releases from artists like Joanna Newsom and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. As Segall explains in a new Esquire interview, that’s how he likes it, because he says Spotify and Apple Music are ripoffs:
“With Spotify and all those streaming services you don’t get paid anything. You have to be like Madonna or something to actually make a real royalty from that. You make better royalties off YouTube than Spotify. Apple Music is the same,” Segall says. “The truth of the matter is I don’t have problem with any of those things if they paid better, I would do them. But they don’t, they totally rip off artists. So I don’t want to be a part of it. But YouTube and all that stuff, free music—totally cool, go for it. I’d rather have the music [be] free than get ripped off by Spotify, personally. It’s just funny to me I’ve heard people say, ‘I don’t have the money to buy your album, man. Why isn’t it on Spotify?’ And I want to just be like, ‘Here’s the album for free, dude. I don’t know.'”
In an era where new artists are routinely pitched on the basis of a Spotify streaming number and little else, releasing music in the standard formats qualifies as an unconventional approach. In Segall’s case, an established fanbase is willing to pay money for individual releases, or at least devote time to tracking everything down on YouTube. (It helps, of course, that he’s not seeking the stratum of popular recognition that almost requires one’s music to be constantly, effortlessly available.)
Segall also weighed in on the pros and cons of musicianship in the digital age:
“I think if you want to do it you can just do it no matter what the rules are, you know. I think in the ’60s and ’70s bands put out a lot of music. I think the ’90s are a weird era because they’re like the last bands of the major label era. I do think it’s cool that anyone can put out music on Sound Cloud or whatever now. But I’m sure the internet and all that stuff has to do with people’s consumption and, you know, but it also has to do with their small attention span, too.”
Ty Segall is out now—you can buy it directly from Drag City as a CD, LP, cassette, or digital download. He’s also got an EP, Sentimental Goblin, arriving this Friday, from which you can hear the new song “Black Magick.” Read Esquire‘s full interview here.