Spotify CEO to artists: hey, we're better than nothing!

Steven Loeb · November 11, 2014 · Short URL:

Spotify responds to Taylor Swift, reveals that is now has 50M active users, 12.5 paying subscribers

When Taylor Swift first pulled all of her music, both past and present, from Spotify last week, the company was basically pleading with her to stay. "Taylor, we were both young when we first saw you, but now there’s more than 40 million of us who want you to stay, stay, stay. It’s a love story, baby, just say, Yes," they wrote.

Since then, though, things have escalated. Swift has gone on to explain her actions, telling Yahoo that she thinks of Spotify as a "grand experiment" and one that she doesn't "feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music."

Well, now Spotify is responding to those accusations, and with a much different tone this time around. In fact the message now seems to be: you’ll take what you get and you'll like it!

"Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it. So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time," Daniel Ek, CEO and Founder of Spotify, wrote in a blog post. Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work."

And here is his big argument: sure, maybe Spotify only pays artists a penny per song. But that's better than nothing. Spotify, Ek said, has already paid more than $2 billion in royalties to the music industry. Pirates, on the other hand pay nothing for what they consume. So, which would you rather have?

"Quincy Jones posted on Facebook that 'Spotify is not the enemy; piracy is the enemy'. You know why? Two numbers: Zero and Two Billion. Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny – nothing, zilch, zero. Spotify has paid more than two billion dollars."

The post is pretty long, addressing certain myths about Spotify and the music industry, such as whether the company hurts physical sales, and if free music means that artists don't get paid. But his main point seems to be that Spotify will generate  revenue for artists in the long run, and, because of the changing nature of the way people consume music, that they need services like Spotify to get their music out.

That even includes Swift, whose music can still be found on other channels, including YouTube and Soundcloud. Her album 1989, which sold more than 1.2 million copies in the US in its first week, was also the top downloaded album on The Pirate Bay last week.

"Here’s the thing I really want artists to understand: Our interests are totally aligned with yours. Even if you don’t believe that’s our goal, look at our business. Our whole business is to maximize the value of your music. We don’t use music to drive sales of hardware or software. We use music to get people to pay for music," Ek wrote.

"The more we grow, the more we’ll pay you. We’re going to be transparent about it all the way through. And we have a big team of your fellow artists here because if you think we haven’t done well enough, we want to know, and we want to do better. None of that is ever going to change."

Oh, and along the way, Ek also dropped in some new Spotify numbers: it now has 50 million active users, of whom 12.5 million are subscribers. The company revealed back in May that it had 40 million users, with 10 million of them paying.

This tactic by Ek, to give artists the, "Hey, we're better than someone stealing your music!" approach is one that is... interesting. But its not likely to placate artists like Jimmy Buffet, who flat out asked Spotify Ek for a raise earlier this year, or Radiohead front man Thom Yorke, who called the service, "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse."

Something tells me that "better than nothing" is not going to change anyone's mind. 

(Image source:

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes