Artists need to put up or shut up about Spotify

Indie | Wednesday 30th October 2013 | Conor

Foals’ Yannis Philippakis has become the latest artist to hit out against the music streaming service Spotify, following in the footsteps of Thom Yorke who earlier this year pulled his solo material and the work of Atoms for Peace from the service.

Both artists stated the same reason for their disdain of the service, the meagre amount of money paid to the artists per stream.

Yannis said: "It's like going to a restaurant when the chef and all the waiting staff have worked their asses off, and you leave coppers as a tip, and you don't even pay the bill. That's basically what Spotify is like, I think,” when speaking to channel 4. Yorke was more blunt in his criticism when he labelled the service “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse."

In the immediate aftermath of Yannis’ comments, Twitter and Facebook were awash with smartarses chipping in their two cents by commenting on how ‘money grabbing and attention seeking’ Yannis’ music was still on Spotify. The real irony is how these people seem to have no idea how Spotify actually works. More often than not the decision to put music on Spotify isn’t that of the artist but it is the label’s decision.

It’s all well and good vocally blasting the service but after all is said and done will that make any difference? In short, no. No it won’t.

The back catalogue of Pink Floyd, one of the major artists whose music was not present on the service since its start up, was added earlier this year. In a time where Spotify is rapidly growing and starting to dominate the way people listen to music, artists who disagree with the service need to voice their disapproval in stronger ways than a few choice words to really make Spotify take notice.

A good start would be combatting the greed of the labels they are signed to. For a million streams the artist receives a mere £500, approximately. This figure seems even more insignificant when you take into account that the label will receive around £4,500, not including the money they stand to make from access fees (the money paid to them to have their catalogue made available) and the shares they have in Spotify.

Again, these depend on the contract the artist signed with the label but in most cases the label will be raking in a great deal more money than the artists themselves. If you beat the labels, then you beat Spotify. It’s as simple as that. Well, maybe not but it’s a good start.

Artists in Sweden, the birthplace of Spotify, are doing just that. A number of Swedish artists are threatening to sue Universal and Warner Music over the paltry revenue they receive from having their music streamed. If their demands aren’t met then they will start demanding that their music be removed down from the service.

Words made by people like Yannis and Thom only serve to make people aware of the pittance paid to artists. If people still listen to their music then it will make no difference in the grand scheme of things. The only way to really make a difference is to wage war against the labels who dominate the profits made from the streaming service.

By Conor Giles