2010 A Brief History Of Spotify, “How Much Do Artists Make?” @SXSW #SXSW (Shill By Shill West)

SXSW Rewind… Back in 2010 during Daniel Ek’s Keynote Speech an audience member who identified themselves as an  independent musician asked how much activity it would take on Spotify to earn just one US Dollar. The 27 year old wunderkind and CEO of the company was stumped for an answer… Five years later we have a pretty good idea why.

2010… #SXSW Rewind…

Live Blog: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Says Music Service Now Has 320,000 Paid Subscribers | TechCrunch

Q: How many plays equals one dollar?
A: Depends on the type on contract with the publisher/record labels. We share the rev we bring in. You can’t really equate to ‘per play’ we look at all our ad rev. Creates a bucket. For instance how do you account for a purchase of a song. There is no easy answer to your question. Over time our ad revs are growing, number of downloads growing. Amount of rev we bring in is growing.

Will Spotify Be Fair to Artists? | Technology Review

I couldn’t help noticing, however, Ek’s artful dodge to the question of how artists are paid by his service. The subject was broached by an audience member, who identified himself as an independent musician and thanked Ek profusely for the great application. He wanted to know how much he would be paid.

“It’s complicated,” was, in essence, Ek’s reply. But he did reveal that it’s a revenue sharing model; artists get paid a proportion of whatever Spotify gets paid, presumably based on the number of plays on the site they receive.

Ek’s reply was disappointing because this is the million dollar question for many music sites.

Dodgy from the start. What do you expect from one of the co-founders of U-Torrent… Economics only a pirate could understand?


A Tale of Two Pirates? Daniel Ek (uTorrent) and Kim Dotcom (Megaupload)


USA Spotify Streaming Rates Reveal 58% of Streams Are Free, Pays Only 16% Of Revenue


How to Fix Music Streaming in One Word, “Windows”… two more “Pay Gates”…

7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry | AUX

How little does the music industry pay artists? Shockingly little. Spotify, the dominant streaming music source in the U.S., is leaking money. They reportedly dole out 70 per cent of their revenue to royalties, and while that number seems high, consider this: each song stream pays an artist between one-sixth and one-eight of a cent. One source claimed that, on streaming music services, an artist requires nearly 50,000 plays to receive the revenue earned from one album sale. Ouch.

Indeed, things are getting dire. And here are seven examples of how bad things can get.


Musicians POV: Spotify Isn’t Good for You (Part 4 of 5)

This is Part 4 of a 5 part post read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here

See also “Streaming Price Index: Pay Rates as of 12/31/11″

Fair Play for Artists

Spotify’s business model is actually the kind of extraordinarily short sighted economics that you see from people who don’t understand the business they are in.  Take Walmart for example.  They drive a hard bargain, but they are not trying to leverage themselves off the back of thieves.

Walmart doesn’t say to its suppliers that Walmart is better than the alternative of being robbed blind, but will only make the benefit so incrementally tiny that the supplier will go out of business at that rate.  This is the commoditization rate, or what we call “less than zero” pricing.  This sounds just fine to someone whose salary is guaranteed by venture capitalists, but makes no sense for the artists—and they are leaving Spotify in droves.

Walmart knows that they succeed when their suppliers succeed and the consumer succeeds.  The pricing that Walmart pays to suppliers is based on buying power and a mission of offering consumers low prices, meaning that everyone in the chain takes a little less and truly does make it up on volume.  That method is not for everyone, which is why you don’t see just every brand in Walmart.

Spotify’s valuation is based on a business model that is inherently unfair to artists, producers and songwriters.  This accounts for its low conversion ratio—it’s a couple points away from a pure pirate service and has failed miserably in the one thing it had to do to justify its existence: convert free to paid customers.

And even if it did succeed, that would be the worst possible world for artists, because there is little difference in the functionality of a top tier Spotify service and buying a download from iTunes–aside from the price paid to the artists, producers and songwriters, of course.  There is even some evidence that suggests that fans who were buying downloads are shifting to Spotify’s free service and substituting away from paying for downloads legally to a free legal service–the exact opposite of how Spotify has sold its service to artists as the “piracy buster”.

Next: Part 5

See Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here