Last week, Taylor Swift generated headlines by pulling all of her music, new and old, from Spotify. She’s not the first artist to deny Spotify the use of her music, but she’s definitely the most prominent. Talking to Yahoo afterward, she said, “Everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m not wiling to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.” Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek has now responded, challenging the idea that Spotify lowers the value of music and letting the world know exactly how much Swift was on track to make from the service this year.
As FACT points out, Ek has written a long blog post about the amount that Spotify pays artists, and his basic point seems to be this: It’s better than nothing. In fact, he claims that Spotify has, to day, paid out over $2 billion “to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists.”
Ek claims that artists who promote their music on Spotify often sell more than those who don’t, and he says that the service pays royalties more efficiently than, say, the radio. And, regarding Swift, he gets into specifics: ” At our current size, payouts for a top artist like Taylor Swift (before she pulled her catalog) are on track to exceed $6 million a year, and that’s only growing – we expect that number to double again in a year. Any way you cut it, one thing is clear – we’re paying an enormous amount of money to labels and publishers for distribution to artists and songwriters, and significantly more than any other streaming service.” You can read Ek’s full post here.
So: Does Ek have a point? Or does the mere fact that so many artists don’t trust Spotify serve as evidence that the service’s system for compensating artists in inadequate?