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Is a war brewing between artists and Spotify?

6 January 2022 | 1:51 pm | Parry Tritsiniotis

Major streaming platform Spotify has been under significant controversy over the last 6 months.

Major streaming platform Spotify has been under significant controversy over the last 6 months. The artists vs. Spotify debate is hardly a new one, but with musicians being able to access fans in a variety of different ways and platforms, it's no surprise that artists are taking autonomy in the way in which their music is distributed.

Artists have consistently led queries about the unethical business models of streaming platforms holistically, with many arguing that the platforms are made to sell advertisements and not platform music. While yes, this is the unethical reality we face under capitalism, there are things that Spotify and all music streaming platforms can do to make streaming music a more ethical practice.

Recently, T-Pain revealed how many streams it takes to earn a single dollar on the platform. Across multiple streaming sites the results are alarming, with it taking 1250 streams to make a dollar on YouTube, 249 streams on Amazon Music and 128 streams on Apple Music. Spotify sits above these, with artists acquiring $1 after 315 streams.

The irony of T-Pain pointing this out, is that, this doesn't really effect him. with a massive 10 000 000 monthly listeners on Spotify, his music on the platform is making him millions just perfectly. Of course, the conversation he is beginning is shining light on the ways in which streaming platforms do not support the smaller artists in the world of music streaming.

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In a report conducted by Digital Music News, it was found that in North America, artists would be required to achieve between 300 000 and 400 000 streams on average across the majority of US States. This effectively means, in Australia no "small" artist would earn minimum wage based purely on the streaming of their music.

This discussion has been around for years, but the exploiting of artists for their work has become of even higher discussion, given what the profits of their effort are being invested in by Spotify's owners.

Spotify owner Daniel Ek's investments are the last straw for many artists. Ek invested and effectively bankrolled with 100 million Euros, and Artificial Intelligence company that develops national security technology. Ek's investments to develop war weapons has obviously angered lots of Spotify users and artists, who argue they don't want their art, or their subscriptions funding military fighting, violence and war.

What's resulted is the beginning of what feels like a power shift away from streaming services.

Last November, Australian producer b l u e s c r e e n removed their music from Spotify. He stated, "War is hell. There’s nothing ethical about it, no matter how you spin it,”

"I also left because it became apparent very quickly that Spotify’s CEO, as all billionaires, only got rich off the exploitation of others. As an artist, I cannot morally agree with inadequate payments of royalties to those whose entire livelihood is the reason for Daniel Ek’s success.”

UK artist Darren Sangita also boycotted the streaming giant, stating, "Music is being used as a weapon. I can’t sign up to that, so I’ve already unsubscribed and now plan to take all my music down from Spotify,”

"We believe in music as a powerful tool for peace, otherwise it’s a complete contradiction of our music philosophy.”

Most recently, legacy underground German dance producer Skee Mask removed his entire catalogue from Spotify. He shared a statement on Twitter on January, stating, "It's done, all my shit is gone from Spotify,"

"My music will be available there again as soon as this company starts (somehow) becoming honest & respectful towards music makers."


This is just the beginning of a brewing shifting power dynamic between Spotify and artists, as artists take back the power of their music distribution. Keep your eyes peeled, there's a lot more discussion to be had around this topic over the next year.