Musicians have not taken kindly to comments made last week by Spotify Technology SA Chief Executive Daniel Ek that they need to work harder in the streaming age.
The dramatic consumer shift in recent years from buying albums to listening to streaming music has crushed a major revenue stream for many artists, who complain they’re not compensated enough from streaming companies, and that the current business model is not sustainable for many musicians.
In an interview published Thursday with Music Ally, Ek addressed those complaints, and put the blame on the musicians themselves.
“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.”
“On our marketplace, there’s literally millions and millions of artists,” Ek told Music Ally. “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.’”
But he maintained: “Unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.
“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 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,” Ek said.
That implication — that artists need to churn out more content if they want to the same money they used to — set off howls of outrage by many in the music community, who said that’s just not how the creative process works. And artists ranging from Mike Mills of R.E.M. to David Crosby to Twisted Sister’s Dee Snyder weren’t afraid to call Ek every name in the book.
And before fans shout to boycott Spotify, Mills offered a grim dose of realism: “Boycotting Spotify won’t help the musicians on there.”
On Wednesday, Spotify reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss and revenue that fell short of expectations, though its number of active users grew more than expected. Spotify shares
have risen 72% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s