Iconic countercultural musician David Crosby has given the advice he never wanted to give, but in light of the ongoing Spotify debacle and the state of music post-Covid, he sees little hope for aspiring musicians. Despite all that, he has maintained that music is and always will be “a lifting force”.
Speaking to Stereogum, Crosby opened up about his decision to pull his catalogue from Spotify in support of his former bandmate Neil Young: “I think everybody should pull their stuff off, but I don’t think most people can afford to simply because even the pittance they pay is better than nothing for most people,” he said. “So that’s it. That’s what they have to do”.
Crosby went on to add that he doesn’t see the possibility of the major corporations that run the music industry “growing a conscience” any time soon. “They’re not going to suddenly grow some balls and stand against the trend,” he said. “They’re not going to feel the need to do the right thing. They’re going to keep on collecting money and being shitty to the world. That’s what we have to deal with”.
Crosby’s grim forecast comes after Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the music industry, impacting fresh talent and established acts alike: “I was trying to be grateful that I could still go out and play live and pay the rent and take care of my family. Then along comes Covid-19, and I couldn’t do that either,” Crosby continued. “That’s why I sold my publishing to Irving [Azoff]. I didn’t wanna sell my publishing, man. I didn’t wanna sell a goddamn thing. I didn’t have any goddamn choice”.
When asked what advice he would give to young musicians trying to “navigate” the fragile world of music, Crosby held nothing back: “Don’t become a musician,” he replied. “You know how shitty it is for me to say that? You know how much I don’t want to say that? Some bright-eyed young kid who has talent … I don’t want to say that to them, and it is the truth. I don’t hold out any hope for it at all”.
Despite his disdain for the contemporary music industry, Crosby still believes in the redemptive and uplifting power of music. Indeed, he is currently working on several new albums. Why? “Because we love making records, and because we think music is a lifting force. I believe this hippie bullshit. I think music is a lifting force, and I think these are really hard times, and people need the lift. I’m making music because music makes things better, and it makes people happier. That’s good enough for me. If I don’t get paid, I don’t get paid.”