5 Myths About Spotify You Probably Believe… Busted

Ben Stegner 30-03-2017

When was the last time you downloaded music from iTunes or Amazon? Do you load up a CD when you need some tunes on a long car trip?


Of course not. Instead, you almost certainly get your music through Spotify 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 or another something similar. Since the rise of streaming music services (fronted by Spotify) in the early 2010s, paid downloads have declined greatly iTunes Sales Are Declining – Is This the End of Paid Music Downloads? Spotify is replacing iTunes for many users – will that tend continue? Read More . Many people will tell you that Spotify is evil and is causing the death of the music industry, but those claims are overblown.

Let’s discuss some of the biggest misconceptions about Spotify and reveal the truth.

Myth 1: Spotify Doesn’t Pay Artists

If you’ve heard a single criticism against Spotify, it’s probably this. Since the service became popular, critics have claimed that Spotify doesn’t properly compensate artists for their content. While Spotify’s base payment might sound low at first glance, it’s important to review where that money actually goes.

Obviously but importantly, Spotify does pay artists. Just because the service is “free” to non-Premium subscribers The End of Free Music: Should Spotify Make Everyone Pay? Apple is trying for another revolution with the rumored launch of Apple Music, a music streaming service. But along the way, Apple might be trying to kill existing free music streaming services. Boo! Hiss! Read More doesn’t mean that free users aren’t paying in some way. Those who assume because you can just download Spotify and start listening to music that it’s equivalent to piracy services like LimeWire 8 Mostly Forgotten Windows Programs Still Around Today Many programs that were once popular have faded into obscurity. You might be surprised which ancient software you can still download in 2016. Read More haven’t done their basic research. If you’re a Premium subscriber, Spotify uses your monthly fee to pay out what it owes. Free users see ads instead, and those ads generate revenue Why You'll Never Stop Seeing Ads & IAPs in Mobile Apps Advertisements and in-app purchases in mobile apps and games can be really annoying. Unfortunately, they won't be going away any time soon. Here's why. Read More that Spotify uses in lieu of payment.


Spotify used to feature a page on its site that detailed how it pays artists, but it’s no longer up. The exact payments Spotify doles out hinge on a number of factors, but as best we know it averages between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream. Compare this to Apple’s iTunes, where most songs costs $1.29. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all sales, meaning that at best, an artist would make about 90 cents on one song download. This makes less than one cent per stream sound like a destitute wage, but consider how people use streaming services.

Recounting My Personal Experience

My favorite band is The Classic Crime. I’ve listened to them since before I first became a Spotify user. Whenever they release a new album, I listen to it on Spotify because that’s the central location where I get all my music from. For the foreseeable future, I’ll continue to stream their music regularly, and I’ve already listened to every one of their albums dozens of times.

The Classic Crime has already made more money from me than if I’d simply bought each album once. Further, I’ve supported their newer albums on Kickstarter, which also provides them with income (by the way, Kickstarter also takes a cut of projects, and you don’t see anyone complaining about how that hurts the music industry).


Simply put, a band’s fans will financially support them the same through Spotify as they would through buying CDs or with iTunes downloads. If you wouldn’t spend $10 to download a band’s album, you’re not going to give them too many Spotify listens, either.

This is all foregoing the fact that in most cases, record companies are the rights holders that Spotify pays out to. These go-betweens take some of the profits, too. Unfortunately, this is a reality of the music industry and is the same anywhere — it’s not Spotify’s problem. The company has a contract to pay out a certain amount to whomever owns the rights to the song. If a band has a contract with a record label, then the label has a legal right to that money. Independent bands take more of the profits since they don’t have to deal with the middle man.

For a detailed breakdown of why streaming royalties are complicated, see this Quora post.

Myth 2: Spotify Harms the Music Industry

We’ve confirmed that artists make money from Spotify, but what about the music industry at large? Taylor Swift claimed that Spotify is awful Why Taylor Swift Is Wrong About Spotify In the past week Taylor Swift has pulled her music from Spotify, inspired countless song-pun laden headlines and reignited the debate about streaming music services. Read More and pulled her music from the service, while The Beatles released their entire catalog to streaming services Why The Beatles Embraced Streaming and Why You Should Too Music fans got an early Christmas present when, on December 24th, 2015, all of The Beatles' major albums were released on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. Here's why that matters. Read More at the end of 2015. What do these two different approaches show about Spotify’s effect on the industry?


Consider that Spotify has given people less of a reason to pirate music. In the early days of iTunes, your choices were to pay for a download or go the piracy route. Now, it only takes a few minutes to download Spotify, start an account, and listen to all the music you want. Even if people only casually listen to music on Spotify, that’s a legitimate use that benefits both the artists and the industry. It’s far healthier than the now-defunct Grooveshark The Day the Music Died: A Grooveshark Retrospective Grooveshark is dead. But how did this infamous streaming piracy service stay alive so long? And what does its closure mean for users? Let's take an in-depth look. Read More , which many people used to illegally stream music for a decade.

It’s important to remember that many other mediums are trending towards streaming The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Streaming media is convenient, but you're giving up something important: ownership of digital media. Read More instead of ownership. Netflix lets you stream movies and PlayStation Now can stream PS4 games to your PC PlayStation Now on PC: Is It Worth It? Sony's PS Now game streaming service is available for Windows PCs! But is it worth the subscription price for PC gamers? Here's what you'll get! Read More . In both cases, you don’t own the media that you’re consuming. It’s licensed for your use as long as you’re a paying customer. Streaming hasn’t killed either of those industries — actually, they’re adapting as the times change.

Additionally, Spotify gives smaller artists a better chance to break out than they’d have without it. Bands can link to their Spotify pages and playlists from anywhere — sending them to friends is an easy way to get their music out there. Further, Spotify’s regularly-updated playlists often feature up-and-coming artists. If a band gets their music selected for one of these mixes, they could see a great boost in popularity.

Myth 3: Spotify Has Totally Stopped Piracy

While Spotify has provided a wholesome alternative to stealing music, the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Many people are happy to pay for a streaming subscription or live with ads in their music, but others aren’t for a couple of different reasons.


Although Spotify is good at bringing new releases to its catalog right away, sometimes users have to wait a while.

When Kanye West released his album The Life of Pablo, he restricted it to the problematic Tidal service Why Jay Z's Tidal Music Streaming Service is Doomed to Fail Jay Z recently relaunched Tidal, the music streaming service he acquired for $56 million. Tidal has 99 problems, and the pitch is one. Read More , stating that he would never release it anywhere else. Pablo didn’t come to Spotify for another 45 days after the album’s initial release. This means that Spotify subscribers who wanted to hear the album had to either pay up for the additional subscription or listen to it via other means — like piracy. That’s how over 500,000 people first listened to the record.

Spotify doesn’t have every music track known to man, so listeners who want to keep all their music in one place are likely to pirate the missing music and import it into Spotify manually. And it’s an unfortunate fact that we’ll always have people who pirate no matter what honest options are available. Whether they want to own music without paying for it or just don’t give a damn about the artist making money, Spotify isn’t going to tempt them away.

Similarly, while listening to music on YouTube How to Listen to Full Music Albums on YouTube for Free Want to listen to full music albums for free? YouTube can do that. Read More isn’t ideal, people have uploaded thousands of albums to YouTube for anyone to access. If the uploader doesn’t hold the rights to the music, doing so is creating an illegal copy and breaking the law.

Myth 4: Listening to Spotify Is Worse Than Vinyl

Since Spotify music streams to your computer instead of playing locally, its quality varies with the bitrate. On the desktop app, the Standard setting for free users is 160 Kbps, while premium users can enjoy High quality at 320 Kbps. There are some people who say listening to music on vinyl is better 5 Reasons Why Vinyl Is Better Than Digital for Music Lovers Digital music may be more convenient, but there are still plenty of reasons to listen to vinyl records. Read More than getting your music digitally because of the quality, but this isn’t true.

Vinyl audio is uncompressed analog sound as opposed to Spotify’s compressed, digital sound, and music purists insist that it’s better. But can you really tell the difference? How Audio Compression Works, and Can You Really Tell the Difference? In this article, we'll take a look at how music compression works, and whether it has any real effect on how your music actually sounds. Read More You might notice some dips at Normal quality, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can tell the difference between a vinyl record and a high-quality Spotify stream. A good pair of headphones with Spotify lets you enjoy your music cleanly, and comes without the crackle sound that some of us find annoying.

Aside from pure quality, Spotify’s digital music offers a ton of benefits Vinyl vs. Digital Music: 5 Reasons Why Digital Is Better In the age-old debate between vinyl music versus digital music, we think digital music wins. Here's why! Read More over vinyl. Records aren’t portable, require flipping to hear the entire album, and can cost $20 or more. A $10 Premium payment gets you a month of unlimited access to anything you want to listen to — why would you pay double that for one album?

Myth 5: Spotify Is Faultless

After the above discussions, you might get the impression that we view Spotify as faultless — this isn’t so. While we think Premium is a worth the cost Is Spotify Premium Worth Its Premium Price? Is Spotify Premium worth its premium price? Discover what Premium offers and whether you should upgrade from Spotify Free. Read More and love the new Discover features that help you find new music How to Discover New Music Using Spotify: 7 Key Tips and Tricks to Know The main reason I love Spotify is that it has helped me find so much new music over the years. Here are the built-in Spotify features I used to discover awesome new music. Read More , it’s an unfortunate truth that Spotify’s user experience has gone downhill recently.

Spotify has removed a lot of features How to Restore the Best Features Spotify Has Removed Spotify may be the best music streaming service available, but it has shed a few features in recent years. Find out how to get the best lost features of Spotify back for good. Read More that were awesome for power users. It used to have an Apps section where you could download utilities to discover new music or look up lyrics right inside the Spotify window. After the Apps went away, Spotify integrated the Musixmatch service so you could still view lyrics in real-time. Then that suddenly disappeared, so now users are stuck looking up lyrics in another browser window.

The service has its own set of annoying errors Spotify Not Working? How to Fix 8 Common Spotify Problems Like every other service known to man, Spotify is prone to problems that afflict millions of users. We have identified the most common problems, and found solutions for them all. You're welcome. Read More that crop up sometimes. Last year, it also had a brief stint where ads were serving up malware Use Spotify? You May Have Been Infected With Malware Spotify is one of the best streaming music services available right now. Unfortunately, it's also been serving up malware to some of its users. Read More . We’ve mentioned the holes in its catalog that you’ll probably run into at some point. And don’t even get us started on how lousy the new Spotify Web Player is Everything Wrong With the New Spotify Web Player Did you know Spotify has now given its Web Player a makeover? Well, we say "upgrade," but this feels more like a downgrade. Here's why. Read More .

What Do You Think You Know About Spotify?

We’ve discussed five myths that many people, including you, probably believe about Spotify. Whether you’re a streaming aficionado and get all your music through the service or scoff at the idea of buying anything but physical records, there’s something to learn here.

For me personally, Spotify provides a great value to access all the music I could want with the peace of mind that comes from knowing I’m supporting artists. It may be far from perfect, but it’s the best way I can think of to listen to music right now.

Interested in a similar service? Check out our comparison of Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music: Which Is Best? Here's our comparison of music streaming services Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music on price, quality, and catalog. Read More .

Are there any myths that you have heard about Spotify? What did you do to debunk them? What do you wish people would understand about the streaming service? Are you happy with the overall Spotify experience? Please add your thoughts in the comments below!

Related topics: Debunking Myths, Spotify, Streaming Music.

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  1. Noah Hardwick
    March 31, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Woohoo! The Classic is one of my favorites too. Only a month left until their new album drops--and their live album is on Spotify today!

    • Ben Stegner
      March 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      Happy to hear from another fan! I don't know too many other folks that like TCC.

      I'm super excited for the upcoming tour too -- they don't come to the East Coast often enough.

  2. No Buddy
    March 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    How much did Spotify pay you for writing this?

    • Ben Stegner
      March 31, 2017 at 1:24 am

      The same amount they paid you to write this comment. You really think they would pay to write this? I included a whole section about the problems Spotify has.

      • Rockstarrocks
        March 31, 2017 at 7:01 pm

        Great comeback. BTW nice article:)

  3. likefunbutnot
    March 30, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Two things I know about Spotify:

    1. Their software behaves poorly if you move their app to an SD card on Android. You can go through some gymnastics to kinda-sorta fix it, but you shouldn't have to. This is my main experience with Spotify as it's an issue I've had to fix a few times for my users.

    And I'm not interested in Spotify because...
    2. It's really, really bad at Classical music. Yeah, they bought a database someplace. I'm sure they didn't compile their own. But there's no way for an end user to fix their bad data. This is maddening. It applies to most streaming sources, but at least Google and Amazon will let me fix bad album and track names for myself.

  4. Neo
    March 30, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    The new Spotify web player is very disappointing, especially since scrobbling appears to be removed as a feature. Plus I don't understand why they can update the player and still refuse to add an optional content filter to remove explicit songs.