Spotify vs Swift

One of my favourite subjects, besides coffee, is Spotify. I have written about it on countless occasions and use it daily. So when I see another story from some musical artist bitching about how little online streaming pays it makes my heart bleed with stupidity.


The musical world has changed over the last 20 years yet some artists and management companies think they still deserve the same reverence as they did in the early to mid 90’s. A time when CD sales were at a peak and easy money could be made from selling CDs as people loved to own.


There was plenty of choice out there as to where to buy your physical discs HMV, Our Price, Woolworths, WH Smith, Virgin and plenty of independent stores all on the high street. The choice of where to buy your music was dazzling. Each offering an array of different musical genres and formatted items including both singles and albums.


Yet today, very few people buy music. If they do it’s a downloaded single track from one of the many online retailers, including the fruit shaped company and there obsession with the letter “I”. There are plenty of people out there who do not buy any music at all and would rather, for whatever reason, get it for free. I used to be the same until I realised ownership of any media product was outdated.


This is where Spotify comes in. I pay my £9.99 a month to access its millions of tracks for an unlimited amount each month. I have stopped obtaining music illegally; in fact I have deleted my entire collection, and use this for everything. Its simple straightforward approach has made my life so much easier and legitimate.


So here is the rub, the artist isn’t getting paid as much as they would if I went out and brought the CD or the download of their music legally. The actual amount Spotify pays is open to interpretation but it’s something. In fact according to Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek’s blog post Spotify has paid out over £1.2bn ($2bn) to artists to date.


This equates to £1,890 to £2,520 ($3,000 to $4,000) per 500,000 streams of a particular track. More than radio play or other streaming services presently pay. Yet Swift felt there was not enough money in this to justify keeping her music on Spotify because she’s an artist. Yep, an artist who wants a ton of money.


One site reckoned she would earn around $6m this year from Spotify alone for streaming. So what’s happened, well Swift is now topping the pirate charts for downloads. A place where she is getting nothing for being an artist. Or as she said on Yahoo music:


Music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m not willing 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.


Or my favourite quote from the Wall Street Journal which is aimed at aspiring girls the world over but is tinged with self worth and greed:


My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet… is that they all realize their worth and ask for it


Musical acts need to learn that what they do is evolving from sales driven business to a streaming service. Complaining about only earning $6m a year won’t win any friends or new fans. Sure the music business is a hard place to be, but those at the top need to see some reality. People will consume their music however they can and if they can’t or won’t buy it. The only option is illegal.


As a side note, I have never listened to anything from Ms Swift and don’t currently plan too so I don’t care what she does.


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