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David Crosby’s Advice to Young Artists: “Don’t Become a Musician”

As far as the rock legend is concerned, the modern music industry is hopeless

david crosby to young artists dont become a musician
David Crosby, photo courtesy of artist
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    The world is pretty dire right now and the music industry is no exception. In light of the recent Spotify vs. Joe Rogan debacle — in which issues of censorship, misinformation, racism, and paying artists an adequate wage all came to a head — Stereogum recently got on the phone with one of the biggest artists who pulled their music from the platform: David Crosby. During the interview, he revealed why, in his eyes, the modern music industry is pretty hopeless.

    “Don’t become a musician,” Crosby said when asked what he would tell younger artists trying to navigate the penniless world of streaming. “I don’t like Spotify. I don’t like any of the streamers, because they don’t pay us properly. Their proportion is wrong. They’re making billions with a ‘b’ and they’re paying out pennies with a ‘p.’ That’s not OK. It’s not OK in that it took away half my income, and it’s not OK in that, especially, it makes it impossibly difficult for young people to make it in the business. It doesn’t pay them anything. It’s wrong.”

    Of course, Crosby acknowledged that up-and-coming artists don’t have the same luxury as music veterans who can abandon streaming altogether, which is why he pontificated that it may be better not to try to make a living off of music at all, and instead just play for fun. “You know how shitty it is for me to say that? You know how much I don’t want to say that?” Crosby said. “Some bright-eyed young kid who has talent. To the Becca Stevens and the Michelle Willises and the Michael Leagues of this world? To my own son James? 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.”

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    Crosby continued: “What James and I are doing, and what the Lighthouse Band are doing — we’re making records anyway, because we love making records and because we think music is a lifting force. You can quote me. 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.”

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