Spotify CEO to musicians: “you can’t record music once every 3 to 4 years and think that’s going to be enough”
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek gave a new interview with Music Ally that's been raising eyebrows among musicians who have condemned the streaming service's low payment rate per-stream for years, a situation that's more dire than ever with the current loss of touring as a source of income due to coronavirus. The interview followed the announcement of Spotify's most recent financial results, and there, Spotify seems to be faring better than the rest of much of the entertainment industry that's been hit hard by the pandemic. "It’s very encouraging," Ek told Music Ally. "Already last earnings call we were seeing a lot of the numbers stabilising and it was looking very promising."
"It’s in our company mission to enable more artists to live off their art," Ek continued, "and it’s really coming through in the numbers. More and more artists are breaking through in a big way, being impactful and creating new fan relationships."
For many artists, however, living off their art means performing live, with streaming income only representing a very small part of what they make. When asked why that's become an accepted idea, Ek told Music Ally:
Even today on our marketplace, there’s literally millions and millions of artists. What tends to be reported are the people that are unhappy, but we very rarely see anyone who’s talking about... In the entire existence [of Spotify] I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single artist saying "I’m happy with all the money I’m getting from streaming."
Stating that publicly. In private they have done that many times, but in public they have no incentive to do it. But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.
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 realise 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.
Meanwhile, with that said, Ek says that, "As a music fan, I’m hopeful and keeping my fingers crossed that we can go back to going to live shows again. That will be super meaningful.”
Read the interview in full at Music Ally
A few artists have responded to Ek's comments, including R.E.M.'s Mike Mills who said "Go fuck yourself" while David Crosby called Ek "an obnoxious greedy little shit."