“The income streams of musicians have all been upstreamed into the pockets of computer corporations.”
ANOHNI has criticised Apple Music and other streaming services, saying that musicians have been “stripped of the ability to effectively sell our music as an object.”
Speaking in an interview with The Creative Independent, the outspoken artist also expressed regret at having allowed Apple Music to finance her ‘Drone Bomb Me’ video.
“Now we are being herded into all these shady situations. So, now, say the focus of your music is social justice—social justice becomes a big part of your ‘brand.’
“As soon as you have enough followers, the corporations come knocking to rent out your brand, which they then turn around and use as a pheromone to sell their products. You use that money to make a music video and pay your recording costs.
“But now your record has a logo for Nike or Apple on the back. Do we really want to front for these multinationals? It’s been such an insidious transfer of our agency.”
“Having diverted our income streams into their own pockets, they now siphon the “lucky” ones back a tiny lifeline of resources to keep us going. And by taking the bait, our credibility is conjoined with that corporation and their business practices.
“It’s exhausting. You see artists hailed as a new generation of independents, only to be enlisted to leverage product.”
ANOHNI’s recent Hopelessness is one of the year’s most politically-minded albums, covering topics such as surveillance and global warming. The video for her ‘Drone Bomb Me’ single, which featured Naomi Campbell, is a comment on the nature of warfare in the 21st century.
The video was financed by Apple in return for timed exclusivity to drive potential customers to its fledgling streaming service.
“I’m as guilty as the next person in having signed up for this,” she said. “The record companies can’t afford to advance the whole cost for making the record anymore, let alone pay for an ambitious video. So after a lot of hemming and hawing I agreed to work with Apple on the video. I wanted the video to have a wider reach, and only Apple could offer me the resources to do so.”
“No one got paid to do that video except the hairdresser,” she alleges. “The whole thing was done basically for free, just to make a product that we were then obliged to rent exclusively to Apple for a fraction of what they would had to have paid for it if they had framed it as an advertisement, which is of course what it was, though I didn’t want to admit it at the time.”
She also calls the company “the McDonald’s of consumer high tech whose wealth was largely pilfered from what was once a biodiverse music industry.”
“Everyone is trying to look on the bright side… vinyl sales went up 3% this year, or whatever. But we have been played, it’s just the truth. It’s manifest destiny. And consumers have been conveniently deceived in thinking that paying musicians for their recordings is a scam.”
ANOHNI isn’t the only artist to have been critical of Apple Music in recent months. In July, Bon Iver called it “a horrid platform,” saying: “They let the commercialization of Apple Music get in the way of making a product easy, simple, and beautiful to use.”
Despite criticism from some artists, many more have used the platform to release content exclusively or ahead of other services. Frank Ocean and Chance The Rapper have both used Apple Music to release albums ahead of other platforms.