Spotify spoils the customers but starves the artists

13 April 2010

There aren't many people out to knock Spotify, the desktop and mobile application that lets you create playlists from tens of thousands of songs for free. And once you've had a sniff of Spotify Premium, which allows you to listen to music uninterrupted by advertising and also save your music offline, you fall in love with the damned thing.

That said, there are continued grumblings from the people producing the stuff going in your ears. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, which represents 2,000 songwriters, has described Spotify's payments as "tiny" and wants the company to release more information about how their music is earning money. The problem is that without any details, songwriters can't tell whether they're earning next to nothing because nobody is listening to their music, the royalty payments are miniscule, or whether Spotify is even generating enough revenue to pay.

Spotify certainly seems to be making a reasonable amount of cash; last month they announced the service had 300,000 Spotify Premium customers paying £10 per month; it also attracts a sizable amount of advertising revenue, and the record labels themselves own a percentage of the company. That said, Spotify plans to launch in the US this year, which will require no small amount of funding to do successfully.

While acknowledging there's plenty of music out there that'd see you fill your ears with cement, Basca chairman Patrick Rackow made the reasonably fair point: "It's hard to say that anyone has a right to make a living out of writing songs but if you write songs that people actually want to hear then I think that does give you some sort of right to get some remuneration back."



  • Martin
    Interesting graphic here demonstrating how much spotify pay relative to some other methods of getting music...
  • Martin
    BTW, that's for artists rather than composers.... but still interesting :-)
  • David
    I don't care about music artists. They should go out and get a real job.
  • Bono
    What we, the artists, are after, is a fair slice of the Spotify Pie (Spotipie?) If they're making lots of money, then we want more. PS I'm a money grabbing nobsock as are all the rest of these so called (con) 'artists'.
  • David
    what's a nobsock? lemme go google it. ewww
  • andy y.
    How much Spotify makes,loses or charges is irrelevant.The problem is that the Record Companies are not sharing the contract data with the artiste. The implication is that the record company is ripping off the musician not Spotify. Still musicians fail to grasp that they have to be responsible for the composition,production and ownership of there own content.Tossers they are sign a deal ride round in limos for a year then find everything is deducted from the advance.Leaving it to EMI to clean up,then get bought by Guy Hands who totally fucks up.Hah!
  • @
    No, it's the companies like spotify that are ripping the artists off, along with the labels.
  • donttouchthehair
    Maybe the artists should have focused more on this sort of thing whilst they were writing the Digital Economy Bill on behalf of everyone. :p
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGayIsGay
    Those poor, poor artists. My heart bleeds for them.
  • Johan
    How much does an artist make when one million people listen to one of their songs on radio? A lot less than what Spotify pays them (and, not to forget, their label)! Because this is what Spotify is all about: LISTENING to music, not BUYING it.
  • Kevin
    It's nothing to do with Spotify. It's all to do with the record companies, they are the ones holding back. But in many ways Spotify is no different than the radio, and I don't see artists calling for the end of radio.
  • Brian
    "It’s nothing to do with Spotify. It’s all to do with the record companies, they are the ones holding back." Er... no. The record labels own a large chunk of spotify. Geddit... labels own spotify. Gives spotify music at low rates. Value of spotify increases. Record labels get richer. ARTISTS GET NOTHING. Spotify is yet another vehicle for record labels to rip-off the artists.
  • pinobot
    Cry me a river. Recently we got Spotify here in The Netherlands. I like it a lot, no more downloading 'illegal' music and checking for corrupted files. Spotify has an agreement with the collecting society Buma Stemra, i think it's the same kind of thing as RIAA in the united States. They represent the artists. Now, if the artists think the doesn't get paid enough money they should take it up with the people that represent them and don't bother the consumers with their complaints. Just imangine that every time you get on a bus the busdrivers starts to rant about how little he gets paid.
  • David
    I used to download music using bittorrent. Artists got zero. I now use Spotify almost every day, and listen to 95% of my music on there. Artists get a little. A little > Nothing.
  • Musician
    I'm truly repulsed by the people in the comments that say that the artist is responsible for their work/they should go get real jobs etc etc. That is genuinely disgusting and thanks to the power of the internet, I can compose a much more thought-out response to your ridiculous value system where no art can exist and the entire world becomes a vast expanse of mindless office drones- probably not much unlike yourselves...or will be when you graduate from high school. I am a freelance musician/student. I have been playing the clarinet for over 12 years. Since I was born, music has been part of my life: My first baby toy was a play piano, and my folks claim that I reacted very happy to Elton John when I was a toddler. When I was older, I also took some piano lessons, taught myself guitar, sax, flute, accordion and latin hand percussive techniques. I have logged several thousand hours (yes, you read that right) of time spent in rehearsals, and even more hours of personal practice time then I can count to hone this craft - just the same way someone goes to school for 8 years to be a doctor or lawyer. It not only has a financial and "work-related" connection to what I'm doing, but fills my soul with some sort of "spirit juice" (for lack of a better way to describe it) whenever I'm doing it. How many people can say that they knew they wanted to be an adminstrative assistant since they were 9, and practiced hours and hours of typing, proofreading and schedule keeping and all the other skills needed to perform the necessary functions of their job. How many people have told you that they went to a special school where they could practice their job for 1.5 hours a day in a class with a teacher who was a professional for 7 years....and then for another 4 where most every day was spent learning their craft? If anyone tells you they did that, they are probably very very well paid and many people working under them who do most of the real work while they provide the knowledge. A musician who goes through all these things might be lucky if they can pay their bills comfortably...or if they can eat pork chops rather then chicken a few days a week. Most can't even support themselves with their skills and are forced into low-paying jobs. Imagine if all the sudden people stopped paying for you to do your job? Or were buying your job on the internet for free? tl;dr: The people who make your music have probably been working much longer then you will ever will for your job...yet you think they should get paid hardly anything. You are a douche.

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