Musicians have rallied against Spotify’s Daniel Ek after the CEO claimed that artists who weren’t performing well on streaming services were “predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released.”
The CEO ― whose net worth is estimated at over $4 billion ― argued in an interview with Music Ally published Thursday that there was a “narrative fallacy” around claims that Spotify’s royalties were too low, saying: “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,” Ek said. “It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.”
Ek cited Taylor Swift as an example of an artist who had developed the appropriate level of engagement with her fanbase, citing her recent album “folklore,” which broke a Guinness World Record for the most day-one streams of a Spotify album by a female artist after it was streamed 80.6 million times. The CEO also added that “unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.”
In response to Ek’s remarks, a variety of artists ― including R.E.M. co-founder Mike Mills ― spoke their minds on Twitter, blasting the CEO for how little Spotify pays artists and, in the case of one famous musician, calling him a “greedy little shit.”
Music=product, and must be churned out regularly, says billionaire Daniel Ek.
Go fuck yourself. https://t.co/zJjl3NWjLl
— Mike Mills 🌿 (@m_millsey) July 31, 2020
While you (the listener) benefit & enjoy spotify, it's part of what's killing a major income stream for artist/creators. The amount of artists "rich enough" to withstand this loss are about .0001%. Daniel Ek's solution is for us to write & record more on our dime?! Fuck him! https://t.co/IpPy7QCQWB
— Dee Snider (@deesnider) August 1, 2020
Millionaire Daniel Ek telling us how it is here. What are we to do? Im tired of having to kiss the arses of these companies that exploit me and other music makers. We need the whole music community (including fans) to come together and demand change. https://t.co/88NaecyOtH
— Nadine Shah (@nadineshah) August 1, 2020
it is extremely clear that @Spotify billionaire daniel ek has never made music, or art of any kind for that matter. he refuses to understand there's a difference between commodities and art. the potential for cultural growth will suffer because of it.
— ZOLA JESUS OF TSUSHIMA (@ZOLAJESUS) July 30, 2020
Daniel Ek @eldsjal of @Spotify thinks that we want to ‘go back’ to recording albums every 3 or 4 years.
Thinks your lack of liveable income or when you do have 50 million plays and you don’t earn enough to make rent in London, is ‘a narrative fallacy’.https://t.co/9K5ySGDimp
— Tom Gray #BrokenRecord (@MrTomGray) July 30, 2020
Spotify paid us $17 for streaming our album 47,000 times which is the factor by which this guy sucks.
— The Blow policeprotectproperty&peoplewhoownit (@thebl0w) July 31, 2020
To the listener, with love 🤘❤️🤘 pic.twitter.com/QJyBJ3dRYt
— Sadler Vaden (@SadlerVaden) August 1, 2020
You are an obnoxious greedy little shit Daniel Ek https://t.co/8tZx55LeDe
— David Crosby (@thedavidcrosby) July 31, 2020
In the interview, Ek also addressed the effect of COVID-19 on the live music business, saying he was “keeping [his] fingers crossed that we can go back to live shows again” ― a possibility is unlikely to occur before 2022, according to a prediction made in July by Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger.
Currently, Spotify operates on a payment model where a pool of monthly revenue is distributed to music labels and distributors, which then trickle this cash down to their individual artists. The amount given to labels is based on the number of streams a song gets per month, which has fueled criticisms that bigger artists have an unfair advantage over smaller acts.
According to a June 2019 analysis by Soundcharts, artists on Spotify received $0.0032 per stream on average, putting the service behind other streaming platforms, including Tidal and YouTube Red.
Soundcharts’ analysis also stresses that this average is in constant flux due to a variety of factors, including the contracts in place between the artist and their music label as well as whether the listener was streaming via a free or premium Spotify subscription, which have different impacts on the overall pool of monthly revenue.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.