Artists take issue with Spotify CEO’s payment comments

Posted by on August 4, 2020

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek recently had some comments for artists who complain that they are not making enough money through streaming. Now, those comments have drawn some criticism in the music community with a number of artists, including Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach and ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, speaking out against the CEO.

On Thursday (30), Ek told Music Ally that artists not doing well on the site are not creating enough content, claiming that an album every few years doesn’t cut it in today’s music industry: 

“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.”

“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.”

That caught the attention of a number of artists in the industry who say that creativity is much more important than quantity. Responding to Ek’s words, Snider tweeted, “While you (the listener) benefit & enjoy Spotify, it’s part of what’s killing a major income stream for artist/creators. The amount of artists ‘rich enough’ to withstand this loss are about .0001%. Daniel Ek’s solution is for us to write & record more on our dime?! Fuck him!”

“When this guy puts out an album himself I will listen to him tell me about my albums,” wrote Bach.

Portnoy called Ek “a greedy little bitch,” in his tweet, saying, “it’s bad enough that he’s worth BILLIONS based on stealing and giving away other musician’s music…but now he’s suggesting we need to make MORE music for HIM to make more money!!! F-@Spotify and F-@eldsjal.”

“I have 8 full album releases in 2020 & will make PEANUTS on them (if anything at all…),” continued Portnoy. “So his theory of artists needing to make MORE music to succeed is shit! F-@eldsjal & F-@Spotify! Support THE ARTISTS DIRECTLY if you want them to be able to continue to make music…”

R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, David Crosby, Joan Osborne, Zola Jesus, Neko Case and more have also spoken out on Ek’s comments.

Spotify has long drawn the ire of musicians both major and independent, who claim that streaming sites like it don’t pay artists fairly for the use of their music. Artists like Taylor Swift, Pink Floyd, Garth Brooks, The Black Keys, Beck, Aimee Mann and more have refused to put their albums on the site in the past for this very reason. 

This opposition doesn’t seem to deter people flocking to the site however. In the company’s recent second quarter earnings report, the site hit a record 299 million monthly active users, 138 million of which are premium tier (paid) members. 

The new report also showed a deep loss in funds for the quarter. Spotify may have made €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion) in revenues over the last year, up 13% (most of which came from subscriptions), but also recorded a loss of €356 million ($419 million) in the last three months and a 21% year-over-year loss in advertising revenue.

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