If Spotify is saving Swedish music sales, why aren’t indies celebrating? | The Guardian UK

It’s often hailed as a model for the future of digital music, but the reality is that many smaller labels can’t survive on streaming

When Swedish independent artist/producer/songwriter and label owner David Elfström Lilja checked his admin page on Phonofile, his distributor, the other day to find out how much he had made from his latest single Worlds Collide in its first few weeks of release, his heart sank. For 18,035 streams he had received 8.70 SEK (£0.80). Meanwhile it had sold two copies on iTunes, for which he received 36.37 SEK (£3).

“No one can say that streams don’t cannibalise sales, cause I can’t imagine those streams wouldn’t have generated at least a few sales [if people couldn’t stream it unlimited times],” he reflects.

It’s worth noting that 2013’s 5% rise of music sales in Sweden represents a slowdown, as sales rose by 13.8% in 2012. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Sweden that doesn’t know about Spotify by now, so perhaps we’re getting closer to the point where the market is saturated, when all those willing to pay for it are already paying (the company recently dropping listening limits for free users is not exactly helping to push people towards paid subscriptions). And yet revenue levels are nowhere close to where they were in the early noughties.