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I was ten when I pirated my first track.

During one of Pokemon’s commercial breaks my best friend at the time showed me this cool new program that let you download anything you wanted. He asked what I wanted to listen to. I can’t remember what I said but I’m sure I’d be embarrassed by it now. He entered it’s name into the search bar, clicked download and ten minutes later we were listening to it.

This was my introduction to Napster. After Napster came LimeWire. Then it was Warez-BB and finally torrents. I never made it to Usenet.

I was twenty-two when I was introduced to Spotify. In the previous twenty-two years I had spent next to nothing on music. In the two that’ve followed, I’ve spent at least $200. Excluding concert tickets, that’s double what I spent in my entire pre-Spotify life.

For those who don’t know, Spotify offers two tiers. You can sign up for Spotify’s limited free plan Music Streaming With Spotify: What You Get For Free Music Streaming With Spotify: What You Get For Free The long awaited streaming music service, Spotify landed in the U.S. last week. Unlike other streaming services, however, Spotify offers an ad-supported free option, which makes millions of albums and songs available to you through... Read More and deal with ads or pay $10 a month for the full experience. I started off on the free plan but the lure of having Spotify on my iPhone Spotify: The Best Way To Listen To Music On Your iPhone Spotify: The Best Way To Listen To Music On Your iPhone With Spotify making it onto the MakeUseOf Best iPhone Apps list, we're taking a closer look at what you can get out of using Spotify on your iPhone. You can select between the free or... Read More was too much. Within a few months I’d signed up for the premium package.

Now let’s see what the ruckus is about…

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Another Taylor Swift Breakup Headline

Taylor Swift has pulled her music from Spotify, inspired countless song-pun laden headlines and reignited the debate about streaming music services. Her latest album is “1989” was released in October. Like with any breakup there are some unkind words being thrown around.

In an interview with Yahoo Swift explained her issue with Spotify:

If I had streamed the new album, it’s impossible to try to speculate what would have happened. But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I’m 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.

Swift is one of the most successful musicians in history. She’s the only artist to have three million-selling opening weeks. Her singles consistently reach number one. She has worked hard and deserves every success. She’s just wrong about Spotify.

I believe that in Swift’s instance pulling her music from Spotify may have been a good move but she’s an exception; for 99.999+% of artists what she did would never work. So lets look at why Swift is wrong about Spotify.

Spotify The Experiment

Right out of the gate Swift dismisses Spotify as a “grand experiment”. That’s a low blow.

Earlier this year Spotify announced that they’d reached 40 million users in 56 countries around the world. It’s now up to 50 million.

growth2

Spotify’s been growing steadily since it launched in 2008. From 2013 to 2014 the number of paid subscribers almost doubled. In Europe, artists get an average of 13% more from Spotify payouts than they do from iTunes royalties. That’s right, Spotify is bigger than iTunes in Europe.

These aren’t the user numbers of a mere experiment. Spotify shows all the signs of being the future of the music industry.

Spotify, The Music Industry And Fair Compensation

The second issue is more thorny. Swift feels that Spotify doesn’t “fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators”. One problem here is that Spotify doesn’t directly compensate anyone but the owners and publishers of the music; not the writers or artists but, in most cases, the record company. Spotify could be compensating the record company but, if the artists royalty rate is too low, they won’t think that.

Fair compensation is a concept that has been studied for as long as there have been economists. An intangible product like a song — especially when it is delivered digitally — has no inherent value. At least, you can see a CD as a Frisbee. The only value it has is what we place on it. And unfortunately for Swift and many other artists, the value some people (including me in the past) place on music is zero. Twenty years ago this wasn’t a problem, but today there are both legal and illegal ways to listen to music for free.

monthlypay

Spotify shot back at Swift’s comments with a blog post from Daniel Ek, the CEO. “Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it” writes Ek; he continues, “Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny [while] Spotify has paid more than two billion dollars”.

Two billion dollars? That’s a lot of money, but is it a fair amount of money? To address that we need to look at how that two billion dollars breaks down.

Spotify pays rights holders (read as ‘record companies’) between $0.006 and $0.0084 a stream. That’s between a little over half a cent and just under a cent for each listen; the exact rate depends on a number of factors. The money comes from the ads free subscribers are subjected to and premium member’s subscriptions. On iTunes, Swift’s latest album retails for $12.99 with each of the 13 songs selling for $1.29. Depending on how you dice up the numbers, each song needs between 85 and 150 listens on Spotify to achieve the same revenue.

taylor_swift_itunes

While 150 listens may sound like a lot, it really isn’t. Getting personal play data out of Spotify is difficult but Walt Hickey managed to do it for FiveThirtyEight. In his eighteen months on the service he listened to his most played song — I Don’t Know How by Best Coast, I won’t judge — 138 times. Even at the lowest royalty rate of $0.006 per listen, that’s $0.82 paid to Best Coast’s label. If he’d bought the song on iTunes the label would have got $0.90 ($1.29 less Apple’s 30%). The rest of his top ten has high play-counts as well.

top_played

Now you’d be right to argue that these are only Hickey’s favourite songs. He’s listened to 1735 different songs, many of them will have only one or two plays. These songs though, are not the ones Hickey would have bought. They’re the songs he would have listened to on the radio, watched on YouTube or not even bothered with. Hickey listening to them is not a lost sale. Allowing him to listen to them though, has the potential to make him a fan. Ever heard of Vokab Kompany? I hadn’t until I stumbled across them on Spotify. I’ve listened to them hundreds of times since.

Even the songs that Hickey listened to thirty or forty times — the ones he might have bought — still make money for the record label. Although they would have stood to gain more at first if he’d bought them up front, in the long run they could end up making more from Spotify. I still go back to the same songs I listened to when I was growing up.

As I write this I’m listening to Blink–182. I have listened to every song they’ve ever made. I’ve listened to my favourites thousands of times over the years. Since 2012 I’ve been listening to them exclusively on Spotify — it’s where I’ve built my music collection Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify is no longer content to just compete with radio, now they're competing with the idea of even owning music. Read More . I’m not going to stop listening to Blink–182 any time soon. In the next two, five or ten years — so long as Spotify keeps going — I’ll keep revisiting my teenage years and Blink will keep getting money from me. The same is true of the songs I only listen to a couple of times a year. The label might wish I just paid them cash up front, but in twenty years time, they’ll have earned four times what they would have today.

So let’s go back to Taylor Swift. With her legion of fans, she surely stands to make a fortune from all their streams. Spotify reckon she would have made more than $6 million this year and twice that next year.

Why would it make sense for her to pull her music from Spotify?

royalties

There’s one reason I can think of and it’s a good one. Swift is a hugely popular artist and one of the few people still selling CDs in massive numbers. She wanted to break records with her latest album. To do that she needs sales up front. She’d sooner someone bought a CD now than paid her twice as much over the next year. Spotify doesn’t make your album go platinum. If even 1% of people who planned to listen to her new album on Spotify bought it instead, she wouldn’t lose any revenue in the short term and would have a huge boost in sales.

Taylor Swift is a massive exception. Most artists aren’t selling many records. Some of the most successful artists in the UK have day jobs. Swift is entirely wrong to dismiss Spotify just because it doesn’t fit her current market strategy. Half-a-cent a play isn’t much but over time it builds into a significant revenue source. Smaller bands with dedicated fans stand to make far more over time from Spotify than they do with upfront album sales, especially if they own the rights to their music.

The question shouldn’t be whether Spotify offers fair compensation to artists, it’s whether the music industry does. In the short term Spotify doesn’t provide the same value as a single album sale, but in the long term it provides far more. That seems fair to me.

Is Spotify Free?

Finally, Swift seems to have a misconception that Spotify is entirely free. That’s news to me seeing as I’m paying $10 a month for it.

Spotify offers a free tier but it’s limited; there are ads which generate revenue that goes to the rights holders. Scratch the surface and it is a giant honeytrap for those who pirate music or listen to it on services that pay artists nothing. Once you’re in the door Spotify starts paying royalties on everything you listen to. The fifth time you hear the same ad you want to hit your computer. The tenth time, you want to hit someone. The fiftieth time, you want to pay Spotify ten dollars to make it stop. I know, I’ve been through it.

spotify_free

Of Spotify’s 50 million users, 12.5 million pay. 80% of them started out on the free tier. Spotify isn’t free. It’s very good at pretending it is and tempting people like me who actually listen to music for free into trying it. Once they’ve got you, the artists start making money and premium begins to look like a better and better deal. Swift shouldn’t be annoyed Spotify is free, she should be delighted that some service is finally making people who listen to music for free pay. Spotify is killing music piracy.

Are They Never Ever Getting Back Together?

I’m optimistic that Taylor Swift and Spotify will reconcile. Once the dust from dropping a record setting album settles, the long term economics of Spotify will once again make sense to Swift. While in her specific case it made sense for her to pull her music, the comments she made about Spotify were wrong.

Spotify is the future of music and dismissing it as an “experiment” that doesn’t “fairly compensate” artists is short-sighted and entirely misses the point. The value of a single sale on iTunes today might bring in more immediate cash but the longterm value of a Spotify subscriber is far higher. I have never spent as much on music as I do on Spotify.

What do you think? Is Taylor Swift right and I’m wrong? Or do you agree that Spotify is the future.

  1. Frustrated T.S. Fan
    December 5, 2016 at 12:44 am

    She is so stupid.
    Like forever and ever.
    She is losing money and the respect of fans.

  2. Hello
    December 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Absolutely agree, you gotta get people used to paying for music again, before you start complaining that they aren't paying enough! Spotify is helping the less commercial artists, and slowly luring people over to the non-piracy side. It's extremely selfish of her to ruin it for them by trying to ruin it for Spotify. It's not like they're greedy: they aren't even making a profit! Meanwhile she is one of the wealthiest artists out there, making a way bigger profit than Spotify. Why doesn't SHE give more money to the songwriters and producers if she feels so bad for them?
    Honestly, I used to think she was smart, despite the content of her songs. But she increasingly is coming off as an over-privileged white girl living in her little bubble.

  3. ken
    March 21, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    To me it does sound low, I agree with Jim above.

  4. Luv2teach
    March 21, 2015 at 11:06 am

    What a well written article! Very informative. Thank you!

  5. Jim
    March 21, 2015 at 1:08 am

    This article sounds like something written by the Spotify. You speculated on why she dropped Spotify but she said they don't pay enough. Are you seriously claiming that all the artists complaining about this are so stupid that they don't understand lifetime value? The only quotes I've see from successful artists have all complained that Spotify payments are absurdly low. You show no evidence that their contract treats Spotify royalties differently than for anything else. If it did then that would explain things but you don't say that. The record labels may take to much but that should be true for CD's and iTunes but that is not where people are complaining.

    Artists are some of the most commercial people around. I seriously doubt they cannot add up monthly payments just as well as you can. The only people you quote on income are from Spotify. You show nothing from a record label or an artist. If Spotify dollars added up the way you say they do then why are they complaining?

  6. Rick
    January 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    interesting that she pulled from spotify - now can she please pull her music off of the radio? Can't go 2 min without hearing one of her awful songs.

  7. Barry W Brown
    January 7, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I have strange tastes in music (jazz and contemporary or modern classical). Spotify has
    a great collection of both (e.g., Thelonious Monk, Danielpour and Cowell). Also, I have
    a superb stereo (yes, I'm that old) setup. With the Gramofon device I can play Spotify
    on that system with quite good fidelity. So I happily pay my $10 per month; more power
    to them.

  8. ahmet
    November 29, 2014 at 8:47 am

    this is a really good explanation. i wasn't pay for music before spotify, but now i am premium user (but in turkey you pay 10 ?) .

    • Harry
      November 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks Ahmet! I'm glad you liked it. Yeah here in Ireland I pay €10.

  9. David R
    November 19, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Cheryl, 4,175,149 Spotify plays pays out $25,050. So, who did the other $24,936 go to? (25,050 - 114)

    • Cheryl
      November 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      Well, like lots of musicians they actually do sell their CDs and make a living in live performances and selling their music for ads, etc. They are small time, but have been living on the performances, etc. for many, many years. Just not particularly excited about going to the trouble of cashing checks in teeny, tiny amounts. Even if better than nothing for radio air play.

      And I did point out that the somebody is paying someone other than the artists a lot more money.

  10. Grey
    November 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Ignore my previous comment about the $0.006. I either had too much coffee today, or not enough.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Hahahah I'm guessing not enough! There are actually tonnes of people who make that mistake and a lot of the blogs ranting about Spotify use that 6/100 of a cent rather than 6/10 of a cent as the basis of their maths.

    • Cheryl
      November 18, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Grey, you are correct that it would still take at least 215 listen to add up to $1.29 though. I do know that smaller time musicians tell me that they mostly aren't too excited about receiving their checks for under a dollar every month.

      And I see Bette Midler saying: .@Spotify and @Pandora have made it impossible for songwriters to earn a living: three months streaming on Pandora, 4,175,149 plays=$114.11.

      Spotify and Pandora would argue that "terrestial radio" pays nothing and that they pay significantly more to the record company's than are passed on to the artists and writers.

      It's a very tough business.

    • Harry
      November 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Hey Cheryl, no offence to your friends but if their music is only getting a few hundred plays a month they wouldn't be making any money selling records either.

      As for Bette Midler, Pandora responded — http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/digital-and-mobile/6039697/bette-midler-disparages-pandora-spotify-over-artist — they paid $6400 for the 4 million plays. Her royalty rate from the record company is <2%. That's who the issue lies with!

      Also Spotify's royalty rates are significantly higher, as David says below they would have paid out around $25000. That'd be $500 dollars for Midler. Still not great but if her royalty is 2% she's never going to be getting a large chunk of any sales.

  11. Grey
    November 18, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Your math is wrong. $0.006 is not "little over half a cent". It's six-hundredth of a cent. That means the song would need up to 215 listens to equal $1.29.

  12. Darryl Gittins
    November 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Nice work, Harry!

    Have you written anything comparing the music services (Spotify, Deezer, Google play, and so on?) I'm a long time emusic user but I'm going to cancel that and move to a streaming service. I just can't decide which.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Hey Darryl, glad you liked it!

      Tim wrote one comparing Spotify and Rdio a while back: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/spotify-vs-rdio-a-complete-comparison/

      I'm not sure if there are any other comparisons. I just stick with Spotify cause it's awesome. I'm also in Ireland which means we can be a bit slow to get new services.

  13. BobbyFresh
    November 18, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    The nice thing about Spotify is it keeps bands from getting away with selling an album with one or two good tracks and the rest garbage. I bought the Gorillaz first album to find that Clint Eastwood was the only thing remotely worth listening to and Feel Good Inc. was the same way just as one example. I know this happens with a lot of other musicians as well.

    One thing I wonder about is why bands don't just queue up their whole library on a couple different computers on continuous loop all day and put them on mute? If you got enough friends and such to do so, couldn't you potential make a little money from that?

  14. Ciat
    November 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    For those questioning how readers can "make use of" this article:
    Aspiring artists can us the contents when contemplating whether or not to make their material available on spotify, since those independant (hence unsigned) artists own the material they will receive the payouts, which could potentially be quite lucrative in the long run.

    Even if you aren't a musician you probably know one.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Hey Ciat, thats a really good point! I hadn't even considered that. For people who own their own music the payout potential is huge. Imagine how much Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have got!

  15. Me
    November 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Great article! I am, happily, an early Spotify (paying) adopter, as I detest ads of any sort. Ms. Swift decision to pull her catalog will NOT force me to drop 15$ on her album. I enjoy her music, but doesn't phase me at all that I can't listen to her music on Spotify, in fact, it wouldn't even be on my radar if ALL of her music was entirely unavailable on the internet. At the very least she would receive something from me for the couple of weeks that I would listen to her latest hits, if it were available on Spotify. I honestly don't know anyone that continues to purchases CD's. Even the most technophobe people have figured out how to stream music, legally or otherwise. Ms. Swift (and other artists that have made their catalog unavailable to Spotify ) is cutting her nose off to spite her face.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      I'm in the exact same boat. A bit of T-Swift is a guilty pleasure but it's not something I'll miss. I'm not even bothered enough to watch her videos on YouTube. The truth of it is is that very few people buy CDs, but pretty much anyone who does, will buy a Taylor Swift one!

  16. Vampie
    November 18, 2014 at 10:43 am

    This is an excellent article, that clears up a lot of things about spotify!

    Thanks for the write down!

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      Hey Vampie, glad I could help!

  17. Greg Skyles
    November 18, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Santiago said it- great analysis!

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Greg! I'm glad the article's been clearing things up for people.

  18. Roy F. Tottie
    November 18, 2014 at 1:58 am

    I wrote an article last year called From Ownership To Access, which talked about the rise of Netflix, Spotify, and Oyster, and the fact that many people, myself included would rather pay a small monthly fee to have access to a large library of media titles than to have to try and build a library out of dribs and drabs. For what I would pay for one basic album I can get to listen to most of my favorite artists and often the deluxe editions of their albums. To talk about one of the things I love best about Spotify I will use one of my favorite artists Lana DelRey as an example. First she released Born To Die. Then there was an album of bonus tracks. Then Born To Die The Paradise Edition. Then remixes. Do you have any idea how disgusted I would be shelling out money for all that. I mean I love her but I am not in love with her. Really I am not. Honest. With Spotify I simply follow Ms. DelRey (the good kind which does not result in restraining orders) and get alerted to anything new she does. For 10 bucks a month. More than worth it.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Hey Roy, I am 100% with you. I happily pay for Spotify and Netflix. When I can get Oyster in Ireland (and they have more than one publisher signed up) I'll sign up for them too! It's a much better business model for consumers and for artists in the long term.

  19. David Busto
    November 18, 2014 at 1:01 am

    I live in Argentina, here records are very expensive, specially from artist like taylor; spotify, on the other side, costs around $5. That's the price of a cheap cd. Few people were buying records here, I thank the digital world; we no longer need to buy plastic, plastic no longer needs to be printed, recorded, boxed...distributed.
    Many of those middle guys did a god job, but they were not the reason why we listened to music. During the late 90's and early 00's we witnesses boybands, teenbands, reality-show's bands. Records could not accept the fact that their power was authoritarian and in decline. Taylor... Taylor is just another lars ulrich, only blinder, younger, anachronic and hell yes, sexier.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Hey David, thanks for your comments. What we're seeing now is the last dying grasp of a business staffed by middle aged men. The next generation of people won't look back on a time when they had total control. And Taylor Swift is definitely a bit more sexy than Lars Ulrich. Most things are!

  20. gbswales
    November 18, 2014 at 12:45 am

    She is just doing a Lily Allen and railing against downloading. Even more likely it is a ruse by her record label to negotiate a better rate. We have more music availability than in any previous time in history - supply and demand means simply that the value of songs is reducing in a world where everything else is rising. That is just life - but even after all the fuss successful artistes like Taylor are still making more money than anyone could "earn" in a lifetime and it does no good to piss off even part of your fanbase

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Hey gbswales, there may well be a bit of that. I hadn't actually thought of the current music situation in terms of supply and demand but you're right. I listen almost exclusively to Spotify. If an artist isn't on it, I don't listen to them because there is plenty of other things I can listen to.

  21. Grant R.
    November 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Ultimately, it's HER music, so one can criticize her. Shame on everyone that has. Obviously, the label has legal interests and was involved, but again, if that's the case, it's their music. Not yours.

    One other thing: support the artists that you love with your own money - it's not someone else's job to do it for you. If they aren't on Spotify, then support them where they are. There is a lot of great music out there - and it took time, countless hours of practice, and dozens of people to make it all come together.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Hey Grant, there's a bit of a fallacy there. While it is her music but that does not make her immune from criticism. She is totally within her rights to pull it from Spotify but we can examine her stated reasons for doing it and consider their merit. If I wanted to buy something off you but you refused because I'm Irish, no one would disagree that what I wanted to buy was yours to sell or not sell but your reasons for doing it would be justifiably criticised.

    • Grant R.
      November 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Harry, I think we agree then - It's her music/her label's music to do with what they please - and she's not withholding her music from anyone - so how can she or her label be justifiably and negatively criticized for doing so?

      I wasn't disagreeing with you - in fact, as a musician, I appreciated your detailed explanation of Spotify. But seriously... and this is mostly directed at the media frenzy you referenced above... go get her album somewhere else if you want to hear it. It's available to everyone at dozens of other international outlets. So there really isn't a problem here, is there? And if you feel that my statements are somehow deceptive or misleading, we can at least agree that there are bigger problems in the world than this. We could even narrow down "world" to "the music industry" if you'd like.

    • Harry
      November 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Hey Grant, I 100% agree with you that she can do what she pleases with her music but that's not what I have issue with. My issue is her stated reasons for what she did. Those are totally open for criticism, especially since they're easily shown to be untrue. Her true reasons — big record setting album launch — are totally justified. If she'd said that she pulled her music from Spotify because she wanted to have the biggest launch possible this article would never have be written. She didn't though!

      Oh I also agree with you about that! If you want to listen to her album, go get it somewhere else! Unfortunately, for many people somewhere else is the Pirate Bay.

    • Grant R.
      November 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Good points - well said.

  22. Christopher
    November 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Outstanding column and very well said all around. As someone who used to be in a band that struggled to sell physical CDs for $10-12 a pop, Spotify or a similar service would have been an incredible boon for us. We had only a small, but dedicated group of fans, who not only would have streamed our music, but could have helped spread the word by sharing through such services. It's a winning combination for any mid to lower tier artists trying to get their music in front of more ears. Maybe that's Ms. Swift's problem....she's already in front of enough ears. Now she's just trying to figure out how to maximize her profits in the short term. To me, that sounds like a long term recipe for disaster. Streaming music isn't a fad, and it's not the future. It's NOW. Artists like her, especially ones that appeal to a demographic that is largely unaware there was a time when streaming media was NOT available, are seriously cutting off their noses to spite their faces when they take actions like these. It's a bad PR decision and only hurts the fans.

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Hey Christopher, as I said to KT it's great to hear from people who've been on the frontline of it. You're spot on with your analysis. Swift is a cash cow and there's a lot of people squeezing her udders and milking her dry (I think I just scarred myself with that image!). Playing for the long tail has more risk. It's bigger returns, but there's no guarantee you won't be a fad. Personally I think Swift is well past fad but the fear will still be there.

  23. err
    November 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

    For the last 20 years I 've been spending quite a lot of time online, and once a week i enjoy a couple of hours browsing through youtube music videos.
    Until last week, (after the headlines on the T.Swift-Spotify issue), I had no idea who she was, neither had heard (or remember to have to), any of her songs.

    So forgive me, but this "Swift is one of the most successful musicians in history..." sounds really awkward to me :)

    If this affair is just a publicity stunt for her part, it was a good one : i looked her in wikipedia, found her photo in google-images, and watched 3-4 of her works in youtube.
    as for spending? wont happen for Taylor or even Virgin Mary singing live :)

    • Harry
      November 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Hahhahha err that's quite impressive! If you listen to any top-40 radio or are friends on facebook with people who do you generally see her stuff pop up. To be honest, I've never been overly subjected to it either. I just listen to enough radio in the car that I get it by osmosis.

  24. Rene
    November 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I would say to taylor swift" hey honey the chicken have come to roost" or whatever malcolm x said--- it's time you wake up from the pretty dream and work for a living--

    • Harry
      November 16, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Hey Rene, Swift's worked incredibly hard to get where she is and deserves to be compensated. She's talented enough and fortunate enough that her living for the rest of her life is sorted but that doesn't take away from what she's done. It's just a matter of how much is fair compensation.

    • Rene
      November 16, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      when your family goes mental to work the fields --then and only then could people know what it is to work hard. She is pretty and sings and she should be greatful that she gets one penny. I would have more respect for her if she visited our poor latino neighborhood to make a change, but she can care less.. it's only about making money to go the fancy restaurant and have OUR PEOPLE serve her food.. and have her face all over SUBWAY promoting her new record-- she doesn't care about you ---

    • Harry
      November 18, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Hey Rene, there are many kinds of hard work. Farming is one of them. Swift is pretty and she sings but I'm pretty and I sing. The difference is Swift is talented and has worked to develop it. Talented singers, storytellers and artists have always been rewarded. One of the things that separates humans from other animals is an appreciation for art.

      Income inequality is a big issue compounded by the US system. Here in Ireland, and most of Western Europe, the gap is no where near as bad. It's not Swift's duty to help people, it's societies as a whole. Here, she'd be paying about 50% tax on her earnings, the money from that goes to lots of things but a some of it is used to provide free health care, education and support for people who aren't as fortunate. There are also equally successful Latino artists who, if you subscribe to the idea of "our people" should be far more willing to help and be more open to criticism for not doing it.

  25. michel
    November 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    This piece represents your position well. But it doesn't explain why Swift feels Spotify is not paying enough, or anything. I don't know if she bothered to elaborate her thinking, because you either didn't bother to find out, or chose not to report. In that regard, it's not balanced.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Hey Michel, I quoted a significant portion of Swift's statements and linked to the rest of it. She essentially feels that Spotify doesn't pay artists fairly and I explained why she's wrong about that. Also, it's explicitly an opinion piece, there will always be a bias.

    • michel
      November 15, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Okay, I see on re-reading that you did quote her and link. Unfortunately, nowhere does she say what she thinks would be fair compensation. Do you know how Spotify's rates compare with radio, for instance? I don't see much practical difference between a streaming service and radio. She implies that streaming her work is giving it away free, but more than that, she seems to feel that the medium is simply not one she wants to embrace. She wants her fans to buy cd's. And to sum up, your differing opinion doesn't mean she's wrong. It's natural for tech minded people to embrace the new technology, but it's a mistake to assume that these business people are any more honest or fair than record companies.

    • dragonmouth
      November 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      @Michel:
      "Unfortunately, nowhere does she say what she thinks would be fair compensation. "
      Either she has no idea and is just shooting her mouth off, or she does not want to limit the amount of money someone might pay her by mentioning a definite number.

    • Harry
      November 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Hey Michel, Spotify pays about between 6 and 8 thousand dollars per million listens. Radio pays 41 dollars. The issue is that the million listens by Spotify users are deliberate where as the million listens by radio customers are much more shotgun.

  26. KT
    November 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Great article, I have a lot of first hand experience with the music industry and it's ugly. I played my 1st show in 1989 (still in high school) and my last show in 2003. In that time I watched the landscape change by leaps and bounds and the offers we would receive from labels showed that. We never signed one, because like Dragonmouth pointed out, the industry is cruel to artists, especially non-mainstream ones. Most popular (not blockbuster) bands do have to work other jobs or tour relentlessly to make ends meet. The lack of physical media to sell really hurts the artists, but album recording costs have gone down a lot too. Taylor Swift is one of the lucky few, most musicians would kill for her problems!

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Hey KT. Thanks! It's great to hear from someone who's seen what was happening on the frontline. The terms of record contracts that come out are just horrendous. When you see artists fighting to buy back their catalogue just so they can re-release stuff that's no longer available it's sickening. Spotify really has the potential to help make things better for smaller artists. The money will never be as good as it was for artists at the top but for smaller bands that can build a loyal fanbase there is money to be made.

  27. Saikat
    November 15, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I don't think she is the one who is saying "anything". It's the marketing and PR agencies behind her. Ultimately, it boils down to the size of the "cut". And how immediately one wants it. Spotify revenues are longterm and artists also are justified in not looking over the horizon. Remember, it's a highly competitive field and there are numerous stakeholders behind the singer making the decisions for her. For instance, there's Universal and then her own label -- Big Machine.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Saikat, having read the interview it seemed that it was pretty off the cuff and she was expressing her genuine opinion. She's one of the few remaining artists with the luxury of being able to act like it's the good old days. Most artists can't.

      Though I agree, her opinion aligns with the opinion of all the suits behind her. She is a fantastic cash cow for a lot of people and they want to pump it for all it's worth.

  28. AbSquatch
    November 15, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Well written enough, but, um, how do we Make Use Of this information?

    You've already got articles on Spotify and file sharing.

    What's the point of this opinion piece?
    Why should we care what you suspect someone is thinking?
    What business is it of yours how she decides to conduct her business?
    When can we expect an article on why Kim Kardashian should have used olive oil instead of baby oil on her butt?

    Clickbait.

    • Dave Parrack
      November 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      This is far from clickbait. It's an opinion piece, and an extremely good one at that. Opinion pieces are slightly different than the usual MakeUseOf articles, but we still write them to educate and entertain. What is there to make use of here? It should help you understand the numbers behind the PR spin, and understand why we think Taylor Swift and her record label are wrong to remove her music from Spotify.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Hey AbSquatch, I've rarely read two thousand word pieces of clickbait! Especially not ones where the headline describe exactly what the article contains: some of the reasons Taylor Swift is wrong about Spotify.

      As Dave said, the bits to "make use of" may not be as direct as in some of our other article but if you can't get something out of the article I'd be shocked. Dispelling misinformation is always useful important which is the point of this piece. Spotify is a great service and this article has helped some other commentator overcome their doubts about it. I'm sure they think that was useful.

      Also, Kim was right to use baby oil. Olive oil is far more expensive and smells worse in large quantities.

  29. Michael
    November 15, 2014 at 12:16 am

    This article is right on point. If Taylor Swift stops making albums or new songs all together she would continue to make residual income from Spotify if she would've stayed with them. Now thinking in the shoes of other artist, they might actually benefit from this with Taylor Swift gone. That means users would be listening to other songs, which would otherwise be listening to Taylor Swift songs.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Thanks Michael! Taylor Swift could comfortably live for the rest of her life on the money she'd make just leaving her back catalogue up on Spotify. As soon as she doesn't have a new album to sell, I think she'll be back. It's just a weird situation where almost nobody buys CDs any more but the people who do all buy Taylor Swift CDs!

      That's a good point! It is another $6 million for other artists.

  30. georgi
    November 14, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Half of the music I listen from young performers is not even on Spotify. It's a solution only for people into mainstream music

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Hey georgi, depending on who they are you should contact them and ask them to put their music up. Spotify makes it really easy. I find you still get a lot of surprisingly niche stuff.

  31. dragonmouth
    November 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    It is a known and acknowledged fact that record companies have been raping the artists ever since the first contract was signed. That is why the Big Name artists form their own record companies. Instead of dumping on Spotify, Swift ought to sign more favorable (to her) contracts with her record company or start her own company. Sounds like instead of dumping Spotify, Taylor should dump her advisors and lawyers.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Yeah on the MUO chat when we were discussing writing this article there was some opinions expressed on the integrity of record companies that would be impolite to share. The problem with the music business is the business people. Where once they were needed — the importance of risk capital and contacts can't be understated — now you don't need to press 100,000 records to make a profit.

    • Perry Bruns
      November 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      Indeed. The record labels' poor treatment and unfair compensation of artists goes back at least as far as the first blues artists around the beginning of the 20th Century. Robert Johnson, W.C. Handy, Mamie Smith, and their colleagues were among the first of thousands of musicians suckered in by slick promoters.

      Swift is just one of the most recent. She's a surprisingly good singer-songwriter to have as many singles on the charts as she does, but unfortunately the labels would have us believe that she and a few like her are the be-all and end-all of faux-indie-country-pop (now just faux-indie-pop).

      I wouldn't be a bit surprised if her label paid her a few extra bucks to drop Spotify and then throw them under the bus.

    • Harry
      November 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Hey Perry, yeah no one can deny that Swift is exceptionally good at what she does. You can say you don't like her music but she has talent. She also clearly puts her heart and soul into it. She seems like a great person. She's just misguided. Record companies have a cash cow and want to milk it dry.

  32. Doomstar64
    November 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    relized auto correct put ad as add

  33. Doomstar64
    November 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    I really dont get how she could say it was free. You can pay the 10$ as stated before but if you dont (me) you relized that the add that happen every 6 or so songs are like 3 or 4 adds in a row then its your music. Honestly if she wants to say anthing is free its the music she allows on the radio (That thing that people sometimes use.) with that you dont have to pay a cent you can even make a radio out of stuff randomly in your basment.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      It's like the saying, "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product". With the free offering, companies pay for you to listen to music so that you also have to listen to there ads. Just because you aren't handing over cash, it doesn't mean no one is.

    • trigger
      January 13, 2015 at 12:01 am

      All artists get royalty's from all music played on the radio. The person that owned jingle bells get money when it is played on the radio or performed by artists

  34. I am PC
    November 14, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Completely agree & your music collection story is no different than the majority of us around the world, Napster, LimeWire etc. Wouldn't bother with Taylor Swift I have other better artists to listen to on Spotify. Spotify is the future, it is the "Steam" of the music world.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks! Yeah it's just a product of when we grew up. Spotify is an improvement on piracy on so many ways; both to the user and the artist. Though I must admit I have a bit of a guilty pleasure for Taylor Swift, I'm not going to miss her over-much. There is so much awesome stuff on it.

  35. Santiago Hinojosa
    November 14, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    This is a genius explanation! Really well explained, it makes sense and it answered a lot of doubts I had about Spotify and music streaming services like it.

    • Harry
      November 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks Santiago, yeah there's a lot of misinformation about Spotify out there. The record companies try to put the worst possible spin on it while Spotify try to put the best. The truth is far closer to what Spotify is saying though. I use it and love it.

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