I wanted to write a response to this article from the Independent. It talks about people who don’t like Spotify, the music streaming service, because Spotify doesn’t pay enough money to its artists. It’s also two years old, but since Spotify is still a common bitchfest among music industry types, I wanted to talk about it.
Their main point for this article was that Lady Gaga got her song Poker Face played a million times on Spotify in one year, and at the end of that year, she received £108 for it. A hundred pounds for a million plays. Sounds pretty unfair, apparently. I don’t think it’s unfair at all. If I got a million plays to one of my songs, I’d be happy that I got a million plays to one of my songs. If they also give me a hundred quid, that’s a nice bonus. You’re paid in exposure and interest. And as an aside: she’s Lady fucking Gaga. She’s doing quite well anyway.
The problem the music industry seems to be having is that they’re seeing Spotify as an alternative to iTunes. In a worst-case scenario where everyone used Spotify instead of buying music from iTunes, then yes, Lady Gaga’s music is being undervalued when compared to the amount she’d make on a million iTunes sales.
But I’ve never seen Spotify that way. I always see it as an alternative to radio. Indeed, Spotify features radio playlists on its front page for people to listen to. It’s a great place for music discovery.
BBC Radio 1, at the time of writing, has a listenership well over a million people in its peak hours. If you get your song played on Radio 1, you’ll get paid about £60. It’s effectively the same as Spotify because the song is being played out of a million different speakers – but you only get sixty pounds for a million plays, instead of Spotify’s offered £108. Spotify’s actually a better deal. And Spotify allows you to listen whenever you want. And you can buy the song through it if you want to. You can’t do those things on the radio.
Ultimately, a huge problem with the old music industry machine is that it’s greedy and lazy. They don’t want to be a part of anything that’s good for a music consumer unless they can also fill their pockets with cash. So lots of artists are failing to get their music on Spotify since they’re moaning about not getting paid enough. (JSYK, music industry, this means you’re not getting paid at all.)
Even if everyone used Spotify and stopped using iTunes (which doesn’t seem likely at present), there are other avenues for musicians to make a living. Most artists say they make their money from touring, which I’ve never understood since I’ve never done a tour and I do just fine – as long as you keep your costs down and live reasonably, you can live quite well – but that’s another option. And YouTube is great – video plays alone are enough a month for me to live on without any music sales.
So, like, get some perspective and that :) Spotify is fine. If someone can’t find your song on Spotify, they just don’t hear your song. As a musician, I’d rather people hear my song than not hear it.