Last week we learned that pop star Taylor Swift decided to remove all her music from Spotify because she felt that it doesn’t “fairly compensate the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music” and that she couldn’t “agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.” Now Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has responded to Swift’s criticism by saying that she and other artists should be grateful to the service because otherwise pirates would just steal their music and they wouldn’t make any money.
“Quincy Jones posted on Facebook that ‘Spotify is not the enemy; piracy is the enemy,'” Ek writes. “You know why? Two numbers: Zero and Two Billion. Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny – nothing, zilch, zero. Spotify has paid more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists.”
Of course, this doesn’t address Swift and other artists’ criticisms that they aren’t seeing nearly as much money from Spotify streaming as they think they should and Ek acknowledges that there needs to be more transparency in the music industry in how streaming royalties are calculated and distributed.
“As I said, we’ve already paid more than $2 billion in royalties to the music industry and if that money is not flowing to the creative community in a timely and transparent way, that’s a big problem,” he admits “We will do anything we can to work with the industry to increase transparency, improve speed of payments, and give artists the opportunity to promote themselves and connect with fans – that’s our responsibility as a leader in this industry; and it’s the right thing to do.”
Given the apparent deep discontent that many artists are expressing about streaming services like Spotify, we doubt that Ek’s assurances will be the last of this controversy.