Robert Plant Rips Spotify as 'A Hell of a Compromise'

"It's heartbreaking to think that anything can be dismissed sonically by digitalized reproduction."

Ultimate Guitar

Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant shared a few negative thoughts regarding Spotify and streaming services in general, calling them "a hell of a compromise" in terms of audio quality.

Chatting with Vulture, Plant was asked whether it bothers him that "[Led Zeppelin] albums, with all their warmth and dynamic range, are being listened to in cold, compressed streaming audio" by Spotify.

"Yeah, it does," he replied. "I don't champion too many things, but I do champion the sound of music. It's a hell of a compromise. For example, with 'Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar' - never mind Zeppelin - I spent a lot of making sure the vinyl sounds really good, so people have that option.

"But it is slightly heartbreaking to think that anything can be dismissed sonically and put to the sword by the confines digitalized, computerized sound reproduction. It's hell," the vocalist added.

Speaking of the new album, "Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar" is due out on September 8 via Warner Bros. Check out the lead single "Rainbow" below.

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53 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Spotify actually reduced their sound quality a while ago and now high quality is only available to people who pay money for spotify+ or whatever
    Really? Good to know. I still do not have Spotify but reading this makes me not even want to try it. Sound quality is important to me.
    As if digital streaming is the only medium with quality issues. What about radio? What about when vinyls get scratched? What about people who can't afford nice speakers or headphones and have to settle for cheap, tinny ones? Not everyone has access to pro-grade audio equipment in their home. Sorry Robert Plant, but this is a little bit silly.
    I'd rather stab my eyeballs than use Spotify anyways. Just another reason I guess.
    Spotify offers great streaming quality - if you have spotify premium. It sounds like he's under the impression that all digital formats are inherently worse than analog.
    Sounds like Spotify won't do anything about it anyway.
    Spotify and the record companies won't give a damn as long as they get their weekly cut from customers while the poor artists (even some of the big names) get sod all. It guts me that I've spent a small fortune on CDs, tapes and vinyl over the years to amass a large music collection and one of my friends with a certain mobile phone plan can have Spotify for free with a music collection that blows mine away!! Wake up record companies!!!!!
    I think u can be more proud of ur music collection than ur friend could ever be. u may have spent hard earned cash to buy those records, but u have something to show for ur loyalty and interest in those artists, whereas he does not.
    spotify can't do anything about the loudness war, that's up the recroding/mixing/mastering team the same loudness war all over the new Zeppelin remasters, Plant is a hypocrite. But then again I'm not trusting the ears of a hard rock artist from the 70's most of whom including Plant's hearing is beyond damaged from not using ear protection on stage. Same with Neil Young and his Pono bullshit. Here is a tip, rip a cd in AIFF or WAV or FLAC or Apple Lossless and then use a DAC and good speakers, the sound is the closest you can get to vinyl, without the vinyl hassle.
    spotify is not cd resolution, its 1/3 the resolution of a cd. It does not matter what you use to download, u won't get full resolution. As long as people by that crap they will sell it. 66 percent of the digital info is thrown away. A lot of kids don't know what full rez sounds like. I'm going back to vinyl. I'm tired of people trying to sell the crappiest thing they can get away with. There are a few Hi Rez download services but it is not Spotify.
    In a time where artists keep complaining about their music being played on streaming services without their approval or adequate compensation, Robert Plant complains about the audio quality not being up to standard. This is why this man is awesome.
    Floyd Phoenix
    I read a news article that said a self-released artist on Spotify would need 230,000 plays per month just to earn minimum wage. Seems like a compromise in more ways than just sound quality.
    I wasn't promoting music, but I was promoting a writing piece, to about 130,000 people. I grabbed about 18,000 readers in five days using Facebook marketing to a targeted audience. That cost about $300. Multiply that times four weeks, roughly 72,000 readers. If you have a great song, you get more life from a song that a single topical writing piece. If you happen to be touring, and targeting your marketing of each release towards the region you are playing in that can translate into more people at your shows, and more merch sales. If anyone out there thinks they are going to make just a living off of Spotify or other services they have been misled. If you don't tour you won't go anywhere but your bedroom staring at your Spotify numbers wondering why you aren't making a profit. Art is a business. You have to think of it that way or starve. That's the sad reality.
    If your entire business model is posting your music to Spotify and staring at your bank statement, you don't deserve for that number to change.
    It's better than earning $0 from CD sales
    I completely agree with you! Although streaming services and piracy has made cd sales crash, small artists nowadays have a much easier time to get the music out there. It might be hard to go from that to profit, but that's better than never producing and distributing an album because it's too expensive and record companies haven't accepted you.
    Digitally Imported does it for me. I hate Spotify.
    I like it too, especially because you can just listen to a channel you like for hours without any interruption - when you're working, loading a new album or artists kind of breaks your flow, even if it's a minor effort. However, it's only electronic music, which not everyone enjoys.
    What's Spotify like, anyway? I've never tried it but I've often been told it's great for finding new music related to what playlists you have. On another note; I like the sound of the track, looking forward to the album.
    On the web,, spotify is basically itunes on steroids. unlimited listens to as many full songs as you like, and artists make royalties from how many plays they get. It is taylor made for finding new music and building playlists that are hours and hours long. On mobile, spotify is pretty annoying unless you pay for it. Limited skips and locked shuffle mode for the free version. It's not bad for playlists that you would normally shuffle through though. But it's horrible for if you just want to listen to that one particular song. I personally recommend it.
    Seems worth trying out the web version in that case, the mobile version doesn't interest me much. When I'm on the go, I'm usually more specific about what I want to hear anyway.
    Yeah the track is pretty good! I had never heard any Robert Plant solo stuff but I saw this song at Glastonbury this year, you might like it.
    I'm in the same boat as you on that, but this is some good music. A radical difference from Zep, but very enjoyable nonetheless.
    Dude, it has a free version. Just try it out.
    I'm sorry, is there an issue with wanting a user to recommend something first regardless of whether or not it's free?
    Spotify isn't part of my monthly mobile contract, so I have no reason whatsoever to use it, nor the intent to find one. I suppose it's very useful for, and a big part in the life of most consumers, but the whole notion of this enormous database full of all the songs you could possibly want takes away the entertainment, the joy of listening to music for me. It's just like hard work: it pays off. When you can just fork over x-amount of money and get thousands of songs, there's no effort, there is no hard work, and the .....experience..... is completely ruined, imo.
    That's like saying a University library with a huge collection of books, journals, encyclopaedias and papers, that contain a vast array of knowledge, is a bad thing because it takes away the "hard work" of every student buying themselves a new book every time they want to learn something.
    What "effort" or "hard work" are you referring to? Buying a CD? Downloading a torrent? Having to listen all the way through an 8-track tape before you can reset it? Are you arguing that more music being available to more people is somehow a bad thing?
    I'm pro-digitalization when it comes to the music, but if you do it correctly. 96-128kbps is just an insult to the massive sound of an actual record, use at least 320 or flac if possible, or even better - use wav. Besides, as someone already pointed out, analog records tend to scratch, twist, get filthy and whatnot. Don't get me wrong, I love the analog technology, but I do see a positive side of digital as well. Some purists (like Plant over here) will never accept the fact that digital sound can be good as long as you know what you're doing.
    The thing about streaming is the bandwidth required, a 320kpbs stream is going to take up an insane amount of bandwidth in comparison to a 128kpbs stream, in fact, most streaming services use the latter because of this, that's why sites like YouTube and Bandcamp are still free to use. For owning a copy of the music, then I do agree that it's the way to go, or if you have the space and the means to acquire it, FLAC or .WAV.
    I like deezer, kinda slow sometimes but the music is high quality and the first month is free then $5 a month.
    I buy vinyl, I download music via Amazon mp3, I torrent music, i make and sell music, i also have a spotify account.
    I buy vinyl, I download music via Amazon mp3, I torrent music, i make and sell music, i also have a spotify account.
    I've only just started using spotify, and I think it's great. The sound quality for premium (320kbs) is more than adequate for mobile listening in my opinion, and I've listened to so many new artists and old albums I forgot about that it's more than paid for itself. I've made plans to see a number of them in concert, and I wouldn't have without Spotify. So I'm happy with it. I get the disdain for it in regards to monetary compensation, but it has it's benefits in that area as well.
    what i dont get is, the artists on spotify supposedly only make $.006 cents per song play. 70 percent of spotify revenue goes to the artists. and yet last year Spotify lost like 200 million dollars still? something is weird there
    It evens out to be about the same as the royalties for radio play. Think about it. on the radio thousands of people are listening to a single play of the song, instead of thousands of people listening to thousands of plays of the song. It all evens out and it's all the same to them.
    but if that's true then why do artists hate spotify so much? i dont get it
    but if that's true then why do artists hate spotify so much? i dont get it
    I would love to hear his voice with Jimmy Pages guitar, John Paul Jones on bass and Jason Bonham on drums, it would a perfect fit!