Spotify Respond To Criticism From Joanna Newsom

Photography credit: LaVladina on Flickr


Last week musician Joanna Newsom threw punches at Spotify for its treatment of artists but Spotify’s response shows it to be a misunderstanding.

In an interview with the LA Times last week Joanna Newsom critiqued music streaming and in particular Spotify describing them as “the banana of the music industry.” The musician and solo-artist had this to say about Spotify:

Spotify is like a villainous cabal of major labels. The business is built from the ground up as a way to circumvent the idea of paying their artists. The major labels were not particularly happy with the fact that as the royalty money dwindled more and more, their portion of the percentage split agreed upon in their licensing agreement got smaller and smaller.

So someone came up with a great idea that if they start a streaming company, they can make those percentages even smaller. Infinitesimal, because they can make their money from advertising and subscription, and they don’t have to pay their artists anything for that. So it’s set up in a way that they can just rob their artists, and most of their artists have no way to fight it because they’re contractually obligated to stay with the label for x amount of time and you can’t really opt out. It’s a garbage system.

Excluding the fact that an artist who has removed themselves from Spotify is unhappy that you can’t “opt-out”, this seems to be yet another complaint from an artist in the industry that streaming revenue doesn’t pay the artist well enough. However although artist payment is an issue, streaming services aren’t where the blame lies as proven by Spotify’s responses to Joanna Newsom.

Firstly Spotify’s global head of communication, Jonathan Prince, sent out the following tweets to clarify how Spotify’s revenues work:

Prince then responded directly in a statement, saying:

We’d love to sit down with Joanna and try and clear up some of the misunderstanding about how Spotify works to support artists, songwriters, and the whole music industry. For example, someone has led her to believe ‘we don’t pay artists anything’ for advertising and subscriptions — in fact, we pay around 70 percent of all our revenue, from every single advertising and subscription dollar, in royalties.

We’re proud that we’re the single biggest driver of growth in music right now, and we’d love to talk with Joanna about how we’re making streaming work for artists and songwriters around the world, cause we’d love to with her too.

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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