Quoted: Spotify CEO speaks up about Taylor Swift and more

“Here’s the thing I really want artists to understand: Our interests are totally aligned with yours… We use music to get people to pay for music.”

Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, points out that 80 percent of paying subscribers to its music-streaming service started as users of its free, ad-supported offering.

In a blog post expressing his frustration at what pop star Taylor Swift has wrought — last week she pulled all her music from Spotify and is taking a stand against free streaming — Ek says Spotify has so far paid out $2 billion in royalties, and that “top” artists such as Swift earn about $6 million a year (and he says that number is growing) from the service. Further, he says artists still get paid even when their songs are streamed for free, unlike with other services such as YouTube or SoundCloud. “If you take away only one thing, it should be this: No free, no paid, no two billion dollars,” he writes.

In pulling her music from Spotify, Swift has said she is “not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

Another famous musician, Bono, says the problem lies with the music industry. “When people pick on Spotify: Spotify are giving up 70 percent of all their revenues to rights owners,” he said last week. “It’s just that people don’t know where the money is because the record labels haven’t been transparent.”

As we’ve written, this fight has been around for a bit and is sure to go on amid the rise of streaming, not owning. As Michelle Quinn wrote recently: “What we are witnessing is the second digital disruption of media in about a dozen years.”


Photo of Taylor Swift by Dan Steinberg/Invision/Associated Press


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