In a new interview with “The Jeremy White Show”, TWISTED SISTER singer Dee Snider has once again blasted Spotify for the paltry payments the music streaming service pays out to music rightsholders. He said: “That guy from Spotify,” apparently referring to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, “I wanna tell you, he should be taken out and shot. When he heard that artists were complaining about how little we get paid, his response was ‘make more music’ — like we’re producing cans of Coke. Just [increase] the production. [It’s] insulting and belittling.”
Regarding how artists like him can still generate revenue with their music, Dee said: “For me, it’s licensing. The licensing is the last godsend, the last oasis where you can actually make some money. Steven Spielberg chooses [TWISTED SISTER‘s] ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ for the finale of [his movie] ‘Ready Player One’. Thank you, God, ’cause I’m not getting anything from Spotify.”
For years, Spotify has been criticized for offering paltry payouts to musicians and songwriters, with some claiming that the service gives major-label artists an unfair advantage via playlist placement and other promotional avenues.
In an interview published in July 2020, 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,” he continued.
“The artists today that are making it realize 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,” he added.
A number of notable artists have since fired back at Ek over his suggestion that artists need to churn out more content if they want to the same money they used to, with many in the music community saying that’s just not how the creative process works.
“While you (the listener) benefit & enjoy Spotify, it’s part of what’s killing a major income stream for artist/creators,” Snider tweeted back in August 2020. “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!”
Former SKID ROW singer Sebastian Bach also chimed in, writing: “When this guy puts out an album himself I will listen to him tell me about my albums.”
DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy was equally critical of Ek‘s comments, tweeting: “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!!!
“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! Support THE ARTISTS DIRECTLY if you want them to be able to continue to make music…”
Asked in an August 2020 interview with Sonic Perspectives for his take on Ek‘s comments, STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet said: “I think artists should do whatever they feel led to do. And if that’s every year or if that’s every 10 years, it’s not his place to tell artists what to do. And, unfortunately, he’s in a position right now where he’s captaining the ship.
“Spotify is pretty much the leading way for music to be heard and be streamed, and artists, as you know, make very little money from all the streaming. The labels are making a little more money, but this guy’s getting rich, becoming a multi-millionaire, if not a billionaire. And then he’s telling artists how to do things and what they need to do. It’s just kind of hypocritical and comical.
“I can’t wait until the day comes [when] Spotify is no more,” Sweet added. “I’d love to see that day. I’d love to see streaming music be done away with, and for it to get back to some sort of hard copy, whether it’s vinyl or CDs again. Because that’s the fair way to do things. That’s when the artist who is working so hard to create the music is compensated properly.”
In recent years, Ek has been trying to defend Spotify‘s payouts, telling CBS News in early 2023: “We don’t pay artists directly. [Artists] have their deals with their record companies and their deals with their publishers, et cetera. And what Spotify does is we pay out to those record companies and these publishers, and don’t know what individual deals these artists may have.”
Two years ago, Spotify created a web site called Loud&Clear to clarify exactly who receives payments.
According to Forbes, “Spotify has been paying back nearly 70% of every dollar generated from music as royalties to rights holders who represent artists and songwriters. These organizations, which include independent distributors, publishers, performance rights organizations, record labels, and collecting societies, then pay the artists and songwriters based on their agreed terms.”
Spotify boasts 574 million monthly active users as of September 30. The number of people paying for Spotify Premium stands at 226 million.
In the third quarter of 2023, Spotify posted a rare quarterly profit of $33.88 million, a stark contrast to last year’s loss of $249.73 million.
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