REM’s Mike Mills to Spotify CEO: “Go fuck yourself” ++ more artist reactions
Last week Spotify CEO Daniel Ek gave an interview with Music Ally where he said that artists need to crank out more music, more often to make a living: "you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough." Unsurprisingly this upset a lot of people, including lots of musicians, like David Crosby, who wrote on Twitter, "You are an obnoxious greedy little shit Daniel Ek" and R.E.M.'s Mike Mills who Tweeted "Music=product, and must be churned out regularly, says billionaire Daniel Ek," concluding with "Go fuck yourself."
Zola Jesus wrote on Twitter, "it is extremely clear that Spotify billionaire daniel ek has never made music, or art of any kind for that matter. he refuses to understand there's a difference between commodities and art. the potential for cultural growth will suffer because of it." She then followed that up off Twitter with a point-by-point response to the Ek interview in a public post on her Patreon. "It seems as though Daniel Ek has never made music or endeavored any artistic practice whatsoever," Zola writes. As to Ek's claims that "unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself," Zola writes:
Really? Because as a musician I have not met a single peer that is satisfied with the income they get from streaming. In fact, the only ones who could potentially live off the income are the ones who are either already very successful, on a major label, or are making music that is rewarded by Spotify’s algorithm. It’s no surprise that certain music does better with streaming -- anything that can be put on a “chill out” playlist, that’s easy enough to listen to, thrown on in the background while you’re cooking… but that music isn’t music as much as it’s muzak. The artists that are attempting to create something new, different, or deeper than what is required to make it onto one of those playlists… the real culture creators cannot survive. Because the system isn’t made for them. Spotify even has a special metadata set for "valance" - in that, they rate the happiness of a song and this helps drive what playlists it would go on. Which means, if you're not making music that makes people feel happy, good luck getting heard.
She writes a lot more and you can read it all on her Patreon.
Neko Case said "This bitch has nothing to say to musicians. He KEEPS our royalties" while her New Pornographers bandmate AC Newman wrote, sarcastically, "These struggling working musicians that only want to put out a record every 3 to 4 years are the Antifa of the music industry."
Robyn Hitchcock, who has been selling his paintings online to supplement income he would've made touring, says he's actively trying to get all his music off of Spotify and other similar services. "Needless to say, once I’ve clarified the digital distribution situation with my former label, all my past recordings and those of the Soft Boys that we have control of will be removed from exploitative streaming services."
Hitchcock's partner, Emma Swift (whose music is not on Spotify), broke the situation down with Robyn as the example. "Some math, brought you by hacking into @RobynHitchcock’s Spotify for Artists app. Based on these stats, RH would bring in 1.4 million streams per year. Which is about 5600 dollars. 50 percent which gets paid to his record label. In Robyn’s case, he is a prolific artist with more than 20 albums on there. He’s written over 500 songs. It has been his full time job for 40 + years. He’s been playing guitar since before Daniel Ek was born. Mr Ek seems to think Robyn and artists like him don’t work hard enough. Record labels have made Mr Ek believe artists are utterly replaceable, when the fact is each artist is unique and special. We’re not iPhones. We have individual talents and gifts to offer." She adds that with an artist like Robyn, who had been on major an independent labels, getting off streaming services is not as easy as pushing a button. "It’s not as easy for signed musicians to boycott."
Fucked Up were a little more tongue-in-cheek with their thoughts on Twitter:
Massive Attack had some thoughts on Ek, too, writing "In Daniel’s streaming dreams of the future, his company’s algorithms will not only determine the platform’s playlist feedback loop, they will actually replace the artists. And he won’t have to pay anyone."
Geoff Barrow of fellow trip hop group Portishead (and a generally sardonic Twitter presence) wrote "There are quite a few artists that do very well out of Spotify. Most of them own the rights themselves and the music is fuckin awful non descriptive live style tunes. So look out for my “chilled beats” collection coming soon." His Portishead bandmate Adrian Utley wrote, "How dare this c**t tell us how to make our music! Id like us all to stop him having any of it. Fucking outrageous."
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row said, "When this guy puts out an album himself I will listen to him tell me about my albums"
And Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider did not mince words. "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!"
Mike Portnoy, of Dream Theater and many other groups writes, "What a greedy little bitch...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...) 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."
You can read more responses from Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nadine Shah, Joan Osborne, and more, below.