Spotify’s economic model has been widely condemned by musicians and songwriters for years, with critics claiming that the service pays out paltry royalties and gives major-label artists an unfair advantage via playlist placement and other promotional avenues. But according to CEO Daniel Ek, the problem is not Spotify, it’s those lazy musicians!
The response among musicians and performers on social media has been extremely negative with many paying subscribers boycotting Spotify because of how badly it treats musicians. In 2020 more than any other year since Spotify launched, there’s been a surge of musicians talking publicly about their streaming royalties not being enough to live on – including a campaign in the UK (#BrokenRecord) that has trained its sights not just on streaming services, but on labels and the wider industry structures. Tom Gray who started #BrokneRecord campaign states: “This has been problematic for such a long time, and that’s why I call it ‘Broken Record’ because there’s nothing new about this. I’m just saying basically the same things that you’ve heard a million times. But the context has completely changed.”
Many artists and fans believe there are no alternatives or options when it comes to music streaming. Being told by a billionaire to work harder and faster, isn’t likely to be the best artistic motivator, either. According to Ek, musicians need to get with the times and keep up a steady stream of content: “There is a narrative fallacy here, combined with the fact that, obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough. The artists today that are making it realize that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.” He concluded, “I feel, really, that the ones that aren’t doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released.”
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