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

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In a recent interview around his decision to pull his music from Spotify, David Crosby also gave some hard advice to young artists: “Don’t become a musician.”

Still calling music a “lifting force,” the veteran singer and songwriter said that his advice around navigating the Spotify situation was not to become a musician. In January, Crosby’s former bandmate Neil Young (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) pulled his music from Spotify because of misinformation he said was being spread on the streaming platform podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.

“You know how shitty it is for me to say that?” said Crosby. “You know how much I don’t want to say that? 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.”

Crosby, who recently sold his catalog to Iconic Artists Group, said his dire outlook was because he doesn’t see the bigger corporations like Spotify shifting the way they treat artists any time soon.

“I’m going to run out of money in a couple of years and then I’ll have to sell my house,” said Crosby. “That’s just how that is. I can’t do shit about it. I can’t play live anymore. I’m 80 years old and I’m very fragile health-wise. I can’t change the marketplace. They’re making the money and they’re not going to change that. They’re not going to suddenly develop a sense of moral responsibility. They’re scummy people.”

Regardless of his lack of hope for the future of the music industry, Crosby said he was currently working on several albums, including new music with his son James Raymond, along with Stevens and Willis, as The Lighthouse Band. 

“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,” said Crosby. “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.”

He added, “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.”

In response to having his catalog removed from Spotify, in support of his former bandmate Neil Young, Crosby said: “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. So that’s it. That’s what they have to do.”

Photos: Anna Webber / Republic Media

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John Lennon being interviewed by journalist Steve Turner of Beat Instrumental magazine, Apple Records, London, 19th July 1971.

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