The National call on musicians to give Spotify a chance

The band said the streaming service should be supported if it encourages people to like their music and go to their shows

Adam Sherwin@adamsherwin10
Tuesday 10 December 2013 14:06
Aaron Dessner from The National has called for other artists to support Spotify
Aaron Dessner from The National has called for other artists to support Spotify

Acclaimed US rockers The National have called on fellow musicians to give Spotify a chance, despite admitting that the royalties they receive from the music streaming service are minimal.

The Cincinnati band, who will support Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the Barclaycard presents British Summer Time concert in Hyde Park next July, enjoyed one of Spotify’s most-streamed tracks with "Bloodbuzz Ohio", the song used to accompany President Obama’s pre-election rallies.

The service has been attacked by musicians, including Thom Yorke, who argue that it delivers meagre returns for up-and-coming artists.

Aaron Dessner, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, told The Independent: “I use Spotify and it’s great to have all the catalogue of great 20th and 21st century music at your fingertips. We have one of the most-streamed songs on Spotify but it’s not going to make up a lot of revenue right now. Someday that could change.”

Dessner added: “I still believe in making albums and creating a product with great artwork. I don’t think Spotify should be a replacement for that experience. If it encourages people to like our music and go to our shows that’s a good thing.”

“They need to get the economics right for artists or there’s no point in legal streaming. It has to work for artists with a smaller catalogue who are struggling. A jazz album that someone streams once or twice isn’t going to make any revenue. Hopefully Spotify will shift to a more artist cognitive model like iTunes has done.”

The National’s sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, elevated the cult band, fronted by singer Matt Berninger, to arena status. The band sold out two nights at London’s Alexandra Palace in November and are looking to forward playing to 60,000 fans at Hyde Park on 12 July, in a bill that includes Tom Odell, Caitlin Rose, Phosphorescent and Flyte.

Dessner said: “We look at REM and Arcade Fire and we’ve learned over the years how to play to the back of the room. We’re starting to figure out how to maintain that intimacy in our sound in a big space. It’s not like playing to 300 people in a punk rock club where you can see everybody.

“We’ve got better at it even though we’re not the most natural performers. It’s like jumping into cold waters but people seem to like it so far.”

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It would be a “dream come true” to play with Neil Young who is a “huge influence on The National and a great hero of North American music,” Dessner said. “We’ve been strolling in Hyde Park but we’ve never seen one of those huge shows.”

Young and Crazy Horse are notorious for his 18-minute feedback-led song outros which can test the patience of casual fans. The National recently performed a single song, “Sorrow” for six consecutive hours as part of an installation at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

They will not repeat the experience at the notoriously curfew-conscious Hyde Park. “It’s great to get lost in sound sometimes but we’ll stick to what we do best,” the guitarist said.

Nor will the band, nominated for Best Alternative Album at the Grammy awards, attempt once again to predict the weekend’s scores against “Lawro” on the BBC’s Football Focus show.

“We do follow the Premier League quite a bit but we were in over our heads,” Dessner admitted after failing to predict a single accurate result last month. “We were hoping to get some tickets for a game really. We’re going to try and see a game when we come over in March.”

Tickets for the Hyde Park will be on pre-sale for Barclaycard customers at 9am on Wednesday 11th December at

Attendees at last Summer’s Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park concerts and AEG Live customers can purchase their tickets from 9am on Thursday 12th December.

Tickets are on general release from 9am on Friday 13th December.

McBusted, the newly formed pop supergroup, will headline British Summer Time on Sunday 6th July with special guests The Backstreet Boys.

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