Beck on Spotify: “The Model Doesn’t Work. And the Quality Sucks.”

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So, at what point does Spotify have a serious artist problem?  The latest sharp criticisms are coming from Beck, who regards Spotify as an unavoidable evil, but one that simply can’t support his music (either financially, or with the proper fidelity).   Here’s what he recently told Pàgina/12 on the matter, an Argentinian publication (Beck is touring South America; the interview is published in Spanish).

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Pàgina/12: Thom Yorke of Radiohead has strongly spoken out against Spotify and streaming in general, not just for the sound quality, but because they pay almost nothing to the musicians. What do you think?

Beck: Streaming is inevitable, it’s something that is coming, like it or not.  But I question how I can hang on or stay afloat with this model, because what Spotify pays me isn’t enough for me to pay the musicians I work with, or the people producing or mastering my music.  The model doesn’t work, so we have to come up with ways in which people can help us to make music for free, or at least for much less.  But the current way isn’t working, something’s gotta give.

If I tried to make my albums with that Spotify pays me, I wouldn’t make them.  I couldn’t hire other musicians or someone to master it; I’d have to do everything myself.

That’s something a lot of people are doing, and that’s fine, but that’s a different kind of music entirely.

[Later, in a discussion about sound quality…]

But I think the saddest thing about streaming is, as you said, the issue of sound quality.

I’ve spoken with many musicians and engineers who feel the experience is completely different.  It’s like watching The Citizen on your phone.  That’s what people are listening to!  If you come to my house, you’ll hear things in a totally different way.  You’ll hear my songs the way they were meant to be heard, which is not what most people are listening to it. 

Hopefully, we will find the way to change that.

Pagina/12: And the vinyl comeback is only being enjoyed by a few…

Beck: Sure, it’s inconvenient, but it is a beautiful object and I think it will outlast the CD.  But there are many opportunities to improve digital fidelity and I know that Neil Young is working on a system to accomplish that.  Eventually it will happen and people will fall in love with the music.

 Pagina/12: Do you feel like you’re part of, or included in, the music industry?

Beck: I don’t know if I’ve ever felt comfortable with the industry, I feel comfortable making music, playing. I think most musicians feel alienated from the business side of music. If all the musicians left their creative sides to create a ‘business of music,’ it would be totally different that what it is now.  We’re in a business created specifically for business people and marketing.  And that’s how the world works, because music is like any other product they have to sell: they need to think about how to deliver it to people.

But if left to musicians, it would be something completely different, I’m sure.

131 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    So how does Spotify pay Beck per stream compared to what Youtube pays? Oh is it 5x less per stream at Youtube? Oh but he’s complaining about Spotify without mentioning Youtube which has much higher user/streaming volume?

    Let’s keep in mind this dude put out his last record as sheet music.

    Reply
    • TuneHunter

      On YouTube the artist just has to join the Veevoo/Universal team and then his payouts will turbocharge to about half of the Spoofy! It’s sooooo simple.

      Reply
  2. Me

    I keep seeing artists talking about how they can’t survive on what Spotify is paying them now. I don’t get this. Right now Spotify is just one stream of revenue. iTunes is still the main source of revenue. If iTunes were to suddenly disappear, and Spotify was indeed the only/primary source of revenue, that amount would not stay the same as it is now. That amount would go up significantly.

    Reply
    • jr565

      Ok, the way spotify works kind of negates the need to buy the song on iTunes. It’s replacing the revenue stream that provides the artist with revenue with one that gives the artist pennies on the dolllar.

      Reply
  3. jw

    Beck sold over 2m copies of Odelay. Supposing each of those CDs were listened to 5 or 10 times since 1996, that’s a range of 130m-260m plays. On Spotify, Odelay has been listened to maybe 1 or 2 million times. How should a couple million plays all of the sudden generate the same revenue as 130m-260m? Where did that expectation come from? That just 24m worldwide active users ought to bear the weight of financing every album being made?

    I love Beck to death, he’s one of my very favorite artists, but he does not understand scale (and he shouldn’t have to, it’s not his job… there’s about a million more interesting things you could ask Beck in an interview), & he’s very, very prematurely dismissing the model. For Spotify revenue to begin to totally finance albums, the listenership is going to have to grow exponentially. Which it will, over time.

    What’s more, why should he be paying his musicians or his mastering engineer out of Spotify revenue? Isn’t that the very reason he signed to Interscope? Why isn’t there a recording advance in that scenario? Isn’t Interscope the one collecting pennies hoping to recoup what they paid out (and profit handsomely on top of it)?

    And hating on the sound quality… Spotify premium streams at 320kbps. Amazon & iTunes files are both 256kbps. Spotify is more rapidly pushing towards higher fidelity as bandwidth allows for it, which they can do on the fly (provided the labels they’re licensing music from are submitting songs at full fidelity). The last time iTunes upgraded the fidelity of it’s products was 2007. Spotify has upgraded the fidelity of it’s catalog multiple times since launching in the U.S. in mid 2011.

    What really matters is that, when accounting for scale, Spotify is paying a pretty fair rate per play. Essentially Beck is holding it against Spotify that they don’t have enough users yet & so the payouts are small, but also lamenting that streaming will eventually (inevitably) become mainstream, as if the payouts aren’t going to stretch accordingly, as if the payouts will remain dismal. That doesn’t make any sense.

    Regardless, I can’t wait for another Beck record. I’ll buy it on vinyl.

    Reply
    • Me

      Beck sold over 2m copies of Odelay. Supposing each of those CDs were listened to 5 or 10 times since 1996, that’s a range of 130m-260m plays.

      That’s a bit of a math fail. I suppose you meant listened to 50 or 100 times since 1996? Anyways, I agree with the rest of your statement. 🙂

      Reply
      • jw

        Good catch, I was multiplying by 13, the # of tracks on the album, & didn’t finish that thought. 1-2m album plays on Spotify is 13-26m total track plays. So you’re looking at the Spotify audience being roughly 10% of the cd listening audience. Of course even 10x is a very conservative estimation of how many times those cds have probably been played since 1996.

        Though accounting for total plays doesn’t effect the ratio.

        Reply
        • Me

          Yes.

          Instead of railing against the streaming services, artists should be trying to get people to listen to them more, so they will get higher payouts.

          Reply
          • jr565

            You can listen to the song a million times and the payout is something like 60 bucks. You’re not going to break even due to Stream plays.
            If you think bands will prosper if streaming is the source of their income then you’re in for a rude awakening.

          • pay-up

            keep in mind that the RIAA certifies 100 streams as 1 album/single sale. This is why you see Spotify listing the total plays on popular tracks.

          • Leroy

            Regarding this statement: “Why isn’t there a recording advance in that scenario? Isn’t Interscope the one collecting pennies hoping to recoup what they paid out (and profit handsomely on top of it)?”

            The two key phrases are “hoping to recoup” and “recording advance”. “Hoping to recoup” is not the same as actually recouping. That’s much harder to do.

            And “recording advances” are just that – advanced money that has to be paid back before anyone breaks even, or makes a small profit, or has enough clout to get a label deal on the next CD. If a seemingly successful artist like Beck is having trouble making a profit on an album, just think what that means for the majority of artists in the business.

            That’s why very few record companies are offering advances these days. In the ’60s and ’70s, bands toured and performed in support of their record sales. Things are the opposite now, and performances themselves are the larger source of revenue. CD sales and streaming are practically giveaways in support of the work of getting people to shows and paying cover charges.

            Considering the massive expense involved in touring and producing more than a bare bones show each night, this is a sketchy model at best for anyone wanting to make enough money to sustain a career.

    • jr565

      If you have all of Beck’s catalog on Spotify, are you going to also buy it on iTunes? Probably not. Therefore it’s not simply the money that Spotify pays, but also the money that iTunes doesn’t pay for his music.

      Reply
    • sigh

      also, because streaming (spotify, youtube) exists, you won’t get near 2 million sales of odelay if it were released today, (and the subsequent 300 million listens.) so that ‘scale’ figure is crazy talk.

      Reply
    • ranndino

      Superb comment. Beck should stick to what he’s good at. Revenue projections and business in general are obviously not his forte. At the end he says that if musicians ran the industry themselves it would be very different, but doesn’t care to go into any specifics.

      Reply
  4. Here's JW again..

    JW give it a rest…a) you dont work professionally in music b) waiting for something to scale isn’t the same as something that already has c) give it a rest already. I would write something to put you under a bus but you just dont quite get it so i wont waste my time any more than i already have.

    Reply
    • GGG

      Oh, it’s the guy that always tells JW he’s wrong but never actually rebuts the argument. I bet you’re full of great ideas….

      Reply
    • jw

      You’re welcome to disprove anything I’ve said. In fact, I would appreciate being corrected about anything I’ve said.

      Let’s hash it out for the sake of posterity, I’m all for it. Let’s grow to understand each other better through dialogue.

      Reply
      • FarePlay

        Don’t feel bad, these 2, you are a pair right? Say the same thing kind of things about me, but they are more personal about it.

        You keep saying what you’re saying; I mean whose going to stop you? But one things for sure. The musicians are hip 2 your tricks and more are stepping up everyday.

        Reply
        • GGG

          I don’t get personal with you until you start purposely avoiding debating points I actually make and go off on some dumb tangents. You just seem to think there’s literally one way a musician should make money. That’s stupid. Even when CD sales were massive, people still toured and sold merch and put themselves and/or music in ads. This isn’t new stuff. Why you feel the need to push it all aside is beyond me.

          Reply
          • Willowhaus

            You’re correct – musicians have long made money from touring and merchandise in addition to recordings. And why is that? Mainly to make all the ends meet.

            In more recent times, however, touring income is also way down. People just don’t go out to shows as often anymore, and for the most part payments have not increased at the lower strata for decades. That’s why you have more people relying on merch – which is just souvenir sales – to make a tour come out in the black.

            So is it really any wonder that professional musicians – most of whom are just working-class people – would be upset that another of their main income streams is suddenly slashed? That they’re told again and again to rely on their already devalued secondary income streams, or “get a real job”?

          • sparkintheashes

            Hardly anyone made money touring it was always a loss leader for the album sales. How a loss leader becomes the prime financing is a scheme that only works in the heads of fools.

          • hippydog

            quote”Hardly anyone made money touring it was always a loss leader for the album sales. How a loss leader becomes the prime financing is a scheme that only works in the heads of fools.”

            Whats really messed up is how touring became a loss leader in the first place.. It doesnt even make logical sense. (correction.. I guess it made sense in the 90’s?)

          • Will

            I think your statement only applies for artists that aren’t touring very often.

            I am pretty sure that major artists like Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay etc. who are playing for millions and millions of fans are making a buck or two during these tours.

            However, those who are mentioning that there is a decline ticket sales at live events, might want to consider the pricing model for those concerts. To my knowledge the prices have sky-rocketed to an extent that people who used to like a band (not a fan) might re-think their urge to see this band.

            Music is a commodity as any others goods and services – and if people are not aware how the free market works, then it’s all about supply and demand.

            When The Beatles rose to fame, there was one or maybe two “boy bands” available – now there are tens or twenty boy bands which obviously makes it harder to generate a satisfactory income. It’s all about supply and demand.

          • GGG

            There’s a difference between complaining (rightfully) about another diminished revenue stream and actively dismissing non-record sale streams because of some utopian principle you have. Fareplay does the latter as much as he does the former.

          • jr565

            Also, what’s to stop some pirater to sell the bands merch at a cheaper price than the band without getting any licensing agreement from them first?

          • GGG

            You mean like people already do and have done for decades in the parking lots?

          • jr565

            A lot of musicians don’t tour. Harry Nillson never toured a day in his life. Many artists write songs for other artists who go on to make said song famous. How are they going to tour?
            Why should musicians have to hawk t shirts just to profit off of their own music that you the customer seem to want?

          • GGG

            Maybe understand that being a songwriter in 2013 is not the same as being one in 1955, or even 1995? Figure out a way to diversify yourself. Look, everything that’s happening sucks, I’m not disagreeing with that. But instead of focusing on how a decades old career model doesn’t work anymore, fight for better pay WHILE figuring out novel approaches. I work with songwriters and they also do a lot of production work. Still songwriting, and they can get paid for the actual work up front. Learn how to work a board and software.

          • sigh

            you’re missing the point. if enough people complain, take action, lobby, then Google will block pirate sites (or not let ads be sold on them); spotify/youtube will pay higher royalties, etc etc.

            by telling a songwriter to get a new job (work the boards — why not say learn to screenprint tshirsts? make shoes) you are saying that things can’t be changed.

          • GGG

            No, you’re the missing the point that shit changes all the time. Even if we do all complain it’s not like all this shit will change over night. You’re still going to have a shit time making money for however long. I’ve said numerous times that we SHOULD be complaining to Spotify/youtube/etc for better rates, but in the meantime, drive people to those services so volume goes up. Don’t just do one or the other.

          • nate

            Regardless of what you’re doing in music it makes sense to be technoligocally literate. Find out what’s happening to your music on both sides of the board.

          • this guy over here

            Yes. But who’s looking out for the VCR repairmen?

  5. GGG

    Still waiting for one artist to show if Spotify is costing them sales. I asked Lady Miss Kier from Deee-lite, (assuming it’s actually her…) and I’m sure she won’t respond.

    Really, there’s plenty of acts that have an album/song that had steady popularity for the last decade. Just show everyone that sales slumped when Spotify launched and plays of those songs went up on Spotify.

    And in the meantime, continue to rally people to subscribe to streaming and hit massive numbers that do pay out well.

    Reply
    • FarePlay

      GGG, you keep asking that question, knowing there’s no answer. But how do you explain the overall drop in download sales, album sales and Cd sales? We all know that unlimited streaming services are going to do major damage to sales. You confirm that every time you call me a moron for not believing that streaming is the answer and what’s left of the old business model will be gone.

      You can’t have it both ways and expect to have any credibility.

      Reply
      • jw

        How do you explain the drop in sales since Spotify launched? The same way you explain the drop in sales before Spotify launched. Sales have been dropping for more than a decade. lol. And pretty steadily, at that.

        How do you explain, fairpay, that there has been no drastic change in the dropoff rate since Spotify’s U.S. launch in mid 2011?

        You’ve got nothing to stand on here, just conjecture.

        Yes, eventually streaming will replace ownership-based music consumption, but the “devaluing” of music by streaming services like Spotify is overblown at best & a total myth at worst. The transition to streaming over time will likely be no different than any pre-digital format change. The transition to digital downloads was unique in that, as a result, fewer songs were monetized. The transition to streaming ought to have the opposite effect.

        Reply
        • FarePlay

          “Yes, eventually streaming will replace ownership-based music consumption, but the “devaluing” of music by streaming services like Spotify is overblown at best & a total myth at worst.”

          Why don’t you 2 just cut through all the BS. If you want to make a point about the future of music being streaming, there is no argument there. But you guys are so intent on being right, making a point and defending your position, you become dishonest. Enough of the streaming doesn’t diminish sales, we all know that’s a lie.

          And yes, when digital re-created the sale of singles over albums that was a serious blow. And yes, streaming will be another major hit to the ability of artists to make money and survive. So for now, excuse me while I support the sale of physical product, why would you or anyone be opposed to keeping the sale of physical product and paid digital downloads alive. What bothers you about it? Is it all about your ego and intimidation?

          We have an entire generation of people over forty, some of whom prefer to own “product” and while that may not be for you, why the fuck do you care? What, you’re afraid we’re standing in the way of your world? I’m sure in your own resentful contempt for other viewpoints your mouth is turning up into a sneer.

          So bring it on. Your hate only damages your credibility, not mine.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            You know what damages your creditability? The fact that you used (and seem to continue to use) other people’s photographs on your blog without permission or crediting the photographer involved. Is it really that hard to stop pirating photographs for fucks sake?

        • jr565

          Artists are getting millions of listens on spotify. Which means there is a market for their music. Now can we prove that every single person who is listening on Spotify would go out and buy the song? No, but if you have a million plays on Spotify and only sold a few thousand albums, there’s something wrong going on with the business model.

          Reply
          • GGG

            So you believe 100% of people that enjoyed a certain album in the 90s bought it on CD? You think out of the 300M people in America, the only ones that enjoyed a hit record was the couple million that bought it?

        • jr565

          JW, Streaming doesn’t pay artists good money. That is simply a fact. If Streaming will replace buying CD’s outright then Spotify has to come up with a way to pay artists what they would have received if they weren’t on spotify. ANd they can’t and wont.
          Telling artists just wait and don’t take any money while we use your art to grow our business which at the same time will cut into your sales where you actually make money is a loser of an idea.

          Reply
          • jw

            Spotify’s payout is pretty reasonable, & it’s only going to get better. Whether a consumer spends $12 on a cd at Target & listens to that CD for an hour per day or whether that consumer just listens to Spotify for an hour per day, that artist is going to make the same amount of cash at the end of a year. Sure, it comes in at 1/12th per month, but it adds up.

            You have to at least make an effort to understand how streaming scales. It doesn’t sound to me like you’ve actually done the math.

      • GGG

        Actually, there are countless answers out there. Any artist, whether anti Spotify or not can simply say, if it’s true “look, I was averaging 1000 single sales every year until Spotify launched and now I only sell 100 and have 1000 Spotify streams.” Why isn’t anyone? Maybe because it’s not true. Or maybe it is, that’s why I’m asking. But not one notable person has actually backed up their complaints with proof.

        Paul, on this very site, has posted numerous articles stating album sales are at worst staying on the exact same downward path. If you thought Spotify was going to be some DL savior, that’s your own fault. I’ve never said or thought that. It’s about monetizing everyone that steals and/or just otherwise doesn’t pay for music.

        And I’ve never called you a moron for not thinking streaming is the answer. As I said in a post above, I call you a moron because you are one of the most unimaginative thinkers I’ve ever talked with, who has such a pointlessly and arbitrarily myopic view of things it’s almost unbelievable.

        Reply
    • Lady Miss kier

      Sadly there is no way to tell but i can tell you I have written and produced over 1000 new songs since leaving Deee-lite in which there are 4 great albums but I have no funds to mix them down, master them, or pay a band to help promote this music live let alone hire additional PR , an assitant to print t-shirts, a webdesigner revamp, etc….. . My royalty statement decreases approx 50% each year and streaming statements have always been a sad joke to look at …..so…..it seems there are no answers… but our culture is deprived as most hugely popular musicians I know are all wondering, like me, how they will stay in business.
      Streaming payouts should be higher …..but I have no say in what get’s streamed as Deee-lite was signed to Warner brothers and they decide . As far as my new music…..Once I get it out I’m not sure if I’ll let spotify or pandora,etc….. stream it …..that’s why I’m reading this post .

      Reply
    • Bill Rosenblatt

      You’re misrepresenting that article about sound quality. It says that problems with Spotify sound quality are “a limitation of the encoder (and lossy compression in general) not Spotify.” The real problem is that Spotify — uniquely in the industry — has opted for the Ogg Vorbis codec, because it’s free. The more commonly used codecs such as AAC-HE require royalties to be paid on a per-device basis. Well, you get what you pay for. I’m sorry, open source fans, but Ogg Vorbis sounds like crap compared to a good implementation of AAC-HE. To get around this, Spotify uses double the bitrate for its mobile streams compared to services like MOG that use AAC variants — and it still sounds worse.

      I agree that it’s possible to get decent sound quality over streaming. Spotify just doesn’t offer it.

      Reply
      • jw

        This isn’t totally true.

        MOG’s low quality mobile stream is 48kbps AAC, but their high quality mobile stream is 320kbps MP3. Spotify’s high quality mobile stream is 320kbps OGG. At 320kbps, MP3 & OGG are pretty much identical.

        MOG uses the AAC codec for their low quality stream because MP3 sounds terrible at lower bitrates. At those low bitrates, AAC really shines, OGG is decent & MP3 is very poor. Beyond 256kbps, the differences are far less noticeable, & 320kbps OGG or MP3 both sound better than 256kbps AAC.

        But the bottom line is that 48kbps AAC & 96kbps OGG both sound like shit. The 320kbps MP3 & OGG streams sound pretty much identical, you should just up your data plan & tick the high quality option in your settings.

        I think there’s more to it than licensing, anyhow. Supposedly the Spotify web player streams mp3s, so I’m guessing Spotify chose OGG because it worked better with their desktop p2p tech, & that the mobile player simply inherited it.

        Reply
      • Casey

        Ogg Vorbis actually excels at lower bitrates. Their decision to use 96kbps instead of a lower bitrate probably had more to do with them trying to avoid the common encoding shrill all low bitrates, including he-aac have. At 320kbps, nearly all codecs sound identical and are indecipherable to the average ears.

        Reply
  6. JeezLouise

    That said, Spotify needs to pay more. It should be at least $.02 or $.03 per stream. This would require raising rates slightly to around $13 or $14, and/or capping the number of free listens their users get. Pretty simple stuff.

    Reply
    • jw

      $.02 or $.03 sounds absurd to me. Listening to a song 33 times is the same as a purchase? No way.

      There’s no justification for raising the value of music simply to compensate for Spotify’s low number of listeners. That’s actually counterintuitive.

      Also, assuming Spotify is taking 25% off the top (ballpark), charging $14 & paying out $.03 only allows a premium user 20 listening hours per month. I would go through that in 2 or 3 days.

      Reply
      • David

        I don’t see anything absurd about charging 2 or 3 cents per stream. Spotify is a jukebox. In the golden age of the jukebox people would cheerfully pay far more than 3 cents (allowing for inflation) to play a song of their choice. (Admittedly the songs were probably better in those days!) It only seems ‘absurd’ if you assume that there is a free alternative. This is indeed the assumption (spoken or unspoken) behind the current streaming model. Daniel Ek has said explicitly that streaming users are not paying for music but for convenience. So long as rampant piracy goes unchecked that is a realistic assumption, but you cannot expect musicians to welcome a business model that depends on the continued existence of rampant piracy.

        As for the scope for further growth of streaming, I’m sure there will be further growth, but I don’t see where ‘exponential’ growth is going to come from. The Asian, African and Latin American markets can practically be disregarded because they are never going to generate much cash. Europe, North America, and Australasia have about 300 million people between the ages of 15 and 65 (the key target group), and I doubt that you can realistically expect more than 1 in 3 of them to be serious music consumers (based on the rather low average spending on music in the past). So there might be scope for user numbers to grow by a factor of 4, but not much beyond that.

        Reply
        • jw

          I dunno where you’re getting your statistics from. There’s over 300 million folks of working age in the European Union alone (though that’s decreasing as the +65 demo graphic is growing disproportionately). Over 200 million in the U.S. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t another 100 million between Canada, Mexico, & Australia. Asia is a tough nut to crack, but Dhingana in India has 9 million users. And I think the piracy over there is largely an economic function. As their economies grow, I could see India & China eventually being huge sources of streaming revenue.

          The jukebox comparison doesn’t work. There was generally a room full of people sharing the cost of playing that music. No one in their right mind would sit alone in a room with a jukebox & keep pumping quarters, or give the jukebox his or her credit card information to keep ringing up $.03 per play charges.

          These nostalgic antidotes are fun & all, but all you have to do is multiply $14 times 75% to remove Spotify’s cut off the top, then divide it by $.03 per play & you get 350 plays per month. At 3.5 minutes per song, that’s 20 hours of music per month. Like I said above, I’d go through that in 2 or 3 days, then Spotify would be paying out of pocket. It’s very simple math. There’s no way whatsoever that $.03 per play would ever work.

          Reply
          • David

            Fair point about the numbers – I wildly underestimated the size of the EU population, which I thought was about the same as the US, when in fact it is over 700 million! Against that, I would be very surprised if you ever get 100 million users in Canada , Mexico, and Australia, with a combined population of less than 200 million, mostly in Mexico.

            Fairly fair point about the jukebox comparison. But the point remains that if people have to pay to hear a piece of music, they may well be prepared to pay more than the current streaming rate. Of course with a cost of 3 cents per play, people wouldn’t play as many tracks, but so what? I think a higher charge could be especially useful for niche genres, where the potential number of listeners is relatively small, but those who do listen are relatively knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

          • jw

            The working age argument is… that doesn’t really matter.

            How many people in the world have cell phones? That’s the question. At some point pretty much every person in the world will use their cell phone or some wireless enabled device to listen to music, & in those situations streaming just plain makes more sense than ownership. We still have a ways to go in terms of mobile bandwidth for this to even be possible (we’re way behind much of the rest of the world), but it will eventually get there.

            At it’s peak the compact disc had 95% market penetration. It’s not unreasonable to think that streaming will capture even more of the market than that.

      • Me

        In my opinion, this is the debate that needs to be happening: “How many listens equals one download?” There are so many variables in play here, so there’s not a definitive answer, but this how people should be viewing Spotify payouts, instead of complaining about fractions of pennies or whatnot. What’s a reasonable, average expected number of times somebody is going to listen to something they purchase? How do you quantify that? I think this is the biggest disconnect anti-streaming people have right now.

        Reply
        • hippydog

          Quote “How many listens equals one download?”

          I agree, its a number we dont have that could provide some clarity..
          another question thats been asked many times is “how do you equate that download/listen with terrestrial radio market share?”

          but..
          in the end..
          it doesnt matter (though would be interesting to know)

          Because music is not a manufactured commodity, it is art.. And the price in the real world varies anyways..
          I know the music & tech industry has tried to tell people that all CD’s are worth $18, and all downloads are worth $1.0, but those are made up numbers in some ways..

          IE: a song on the radio played to millions of people is free, on spotify its .006 , on a cd its $2 new, $0.25 used, $1.00 on itunes, and $1000 if used in a commercial..

          Reply
    • hippydog

      quote “”That said, Spotify needs to pay more. It should be at least $.02 or $.03 per stream. This would require raising rates slightly to around $13 or $14,”

      math doesnt work on that either..
      $.02 times 12 tracks times 20 listens =$4.8
      Thats getting pretty close to the recoup value of a CD in a store (manuf., retail, distro. etc easily adds up to at least $3 of cost)

      My point is… at .02 cents, you have made the streaming worth more then a purchased CD..

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Spotify is an issue of scale. I have no problem with them as long as the don’t skim off the top and get some real numbers. That said, they’re plan isn’t working out well it seems. As illustrated by the 30year paid chart on this site, its evident that it takes a while before a new format reaches critical mass. Spotify needs the numbers that YouTube has in order to really make a dent. That might take another 5-10 years.

    Reply
  8. Say What?

    So, let me get this right: Beck approves of Scientology, but pans Spotify.

    Fidelity? Does he understand the use of the high-quality streaming check box on the Spotify interface, which after clicking delivers music at 256 kbps?

    Exponentially better than vinyl compressed and decompressed with an equalization circuit, vinyl that is unusable in the mobile context where music shines, spun by what is generally a cheap vibrating motor against a magnet and a coil.

    So, yes, Beck, keep selling sheet music if that makes you comfortable. I prefer music mobile, streaming if possible. If we can take ten dollars a month as an industry from people who once averaged at its peak two dollars a month in disc sales we are doing five times better.

    Reply
    • jw

      Spotify streams 320kbps to premium users on both desktop & mobile.

      That’s nowhere near the quality of vinyl, but you can’t really compare one to the other.

      Reply
      • Say What?

        It is far better than the “quality” of vinyl.

        Study the impact of the equalization circuit on the sound of vinyl albums. Grooves on records cannot possibly come close to representing the full dynamic range of music.

        Add in the cheap motors, the horrific tonearms, the mediocre cartridges, the degradation of vinyl.

        Complete the picture with an inability to work with mobility, which is where music shines.

        No comparison. Digital is far superior, unless of course one has aged ears incapable of discerning the difference, still worse if those ears have the wax of nostalgia imprinted upon them.

        Use a great Digital-Analog-Converter to fully realize the audiophile value of digital audio. No comparison. Completely different mediums.

        Reply
  9. Christopher Esclapez

    A great option to stream or download with great sound quality is Qobuz.com (France, Europe). High def streaming, minimum 320kbit, for many downloads, possibility to get the 24bit masters.

    Reply
  10. Jughead

    At least he admits a fundamental transition is occurring. But, whining about disappearing revenue streams is a waste of time.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    A little bird tells me Spotify is now making specific deals with labels for exclusive digital distribution rights of individual artist’ content, paying a much higher royalty rate in exchange, and giving premium advertising on the site.

    Maybe this the model that is going to change things for the better, streamers as label distribution instead of one stop radio?

    Interesting to see if other streamers follow suit.

    Reply
    • Yves Villeneuve

      Is the only way Spotify can make money is by making a cut on iTunes download sales and Deezer streams? I strongly question the legality of controlling both the artists and end-consumers, though.

      Will Spotify withhold its artists if iTunes or Deezer does not give higher payouts? Seems very anti-competition to me. Doesn’t make sense for a retailer to have direct control of another retailer’s supply chain of goods and services.

      This bird might just be imaginary, in any case.

      Reply
      • GGG

        I think he’s saying streamers might start competing for content, which will be better for (some) artists. In other words, Justin Bieber only allows his next album to stream on the highest bidder, and in turn the winner gets draws in more subscribers. Imagine how many people would join Spotify if that’s the only place you could hear his record for a week or something. And if they’re getting 1.5-2 cents per stream, they’ll make a good chunk of change off that.

        Reply
        • Yves Villeneuve

          People aren’t going to subscribe with recurring monthly fees to get exclusive streaming rights for one week to their favourite artist.

          In any case, if you read carefully that is not the deal being mentioned…probably fiction anyways unless Spotify has found another way to scam the artist by promising better payouts from iTunes and Deezer, which it can’t legally deliver by the way. The label/artist may reduce expenses if there is no need for Orchard and similar digital distributors who charge large sums to clients.

          Reply
          • GGG

            Well, the week comment wasn’t supposed to be taken literally.

            But anyway, not much point in arguing an unsubstantiated thing, but where are you getting anything about Deezer or iTunes from what he said? What I get from that is “Hey, only release your music on us, Spotify, and in return we’ll pay you a far greater royalty, as well as give you a shitload of banner ads for free.” I think the point is to cut them out of Deezer, akin to XM/Sirius differences, and potentially not even sell on iTunes (which probably won’t work, yet anyway).

          • Yves Villeneuve

            “label distribution”

            “digital distribution rights”

            distribution streaming

          • GGG

            Yea, but what does that have to do with taking money from iTunes or Deezer? It’s paying to make themselves more appealing/valuable. Just like what publishers do with buying up catalogues/songs/songwriters. Or just like what Sirius/XM do with Stern or sports or E Street Radio, etc.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            As a distributor of many successful artists it negotiates with iTunes and Deezer for better payouts using its successful artist roster as leverage. Legally, you can’t buy the supply chain and raise the price on your competitors.

            If Spotify is out of the music streaming/retail business it then can become a digital distributor, but only when it stops directly competing for customers with iTunes and Deezer.

          • GGG

            Or it’s trying to cut them out completely. Spotify doesn’t want anyone to buy DLs anymore, they want them to stream them on Spotify for the rest of time.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            From a business perspective, your suggestion would create huge losses for Spotify since there are increased costs related to royalties and no revenues from other sources to offset them. If it raises the price of a subscription, this could present either a consumer demand problem or a predatory business practice that would be dealt accordingly by a competition/consumer advocacy watchdog. It my opinion, this is impractical. By the way, if Spotify can do as you suggest, so can ITunes…it’s a no win proposition.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Keep in mind, though CB Baby is both a distributor and retailer, it is nowhere near a retail threat such as Spotify is to iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Play and Rhapsody for instance. A judge would not force CD Baby to choose between its distribution and retail divisions.

  12. Yves Villeneuve

    An issue is when people complain that an artist actually sells a lot of CDs at $14-$20 plus any shipping or digital album download for $10. What’s wrong with that?

    If retailers like Spotify, Walmart and YouTube stopped discounting/devaluing music and governments proactively deterred piracy, consumers will value music accordingly.

    Unlimited free music does not command value like rare pink or blue coloured diamonds therefore expect more devaluation of music if free music becomes the greater norm.

    Some people need to learn basic tenets of economics and creating value.

    Reply
      • Yves Villeneuve

        That’s why copyright exists, to protect against abuse. Should someone have the right to copy your DNA, appearance, scent or voice for entertainment purposes?

        Reply
      • Yves Villeneuve

        Directly to your point, bullets can be sprayed infinitely from a cheap automatic gun.

        Reply
  13. hippydog

    I’m not trying to defend spotify..
    but again..

    Radio pays out LESS then Spotify, a lot less.. yet he doesnt rail against how unfair terrestrial radio is?

    thats the part I dont get..

    Reply
    • Yves Villeneuve

      Interactive Spotify is different than non-interactive radio, which is why the latter has a lower stream rate. Most people reading this site know this already.

      Beck did not mention American or Vietnamese terrestrial radio because he’s in South America taking this interview… No relevance to the audience.

      Reply
        • Yves Villeneuve

          Radio is same as personally configured playlists? That’s news to me and everyone in the music industry. Keep dreaming.

          Reply
          • hippydog

            I realize its “news to you” and you have an inability to even entertain the concept that things have changed.. But please dont go around ‘speaking for everyone else’.. YOU are not the music industry..

            As an example, look at software like ‘Tune In Radio’ which just curates Radio stations that have an online presence.. Allowing you to switch between stations, and where you can pick your favorite songs and record them.. etc etc
            Some of the the newer vehicles are coming with PVR type systems, that record the radio, etc etc (and have the same features, allowing you to flip between stations when your favorite song comes on)

            I’m not going to explain technology to you (as obviously its a waste of time)..
            Sure, i will agree that “Interactive Spotify is different than non-interactive radio” .. BUT those difference are not near as great as they once were (when consumers only had a choice between a few radio stations)..
            as time goes on it becomes less and less of an excuse that one gets a free ride..

            and THAT was the point I was making..

    • cmonkey

      Since the 60s, all important pop artists write their own songs and terrestrial radio pays very good royalties to songwriters. A potentially unfair system in some ways but it created rock music and gave artists economic, artistic and political freedom.

      Reply
      • hippydog

        It pays “good royalties” only because of its massive user base and existing infrastructure..
        If you could compare “listens” (which apparently cant be done because its to convoluted.) i would the bet the payouts are actually less..

        Reply
  14. zog

    Musicians are going to have to become there own version of Live Nation and control there own destiny the days of someone paying the way is over?
    Beck is a brand he could create is own 360 if he chose the right business model.
    Nation

    Reply
  15. DL

    Radio streaming services are mostly promotional. The reason US radio does not pay performance royalties is the understanding that playback is promotion. Spotify and others like them, are interactive so they pay more in fees. Much of the older artist issues are label related. Artists must negotiate better terms on streaming. What does a label provide? Promotion, production, distribution. You have to pay for those somehow. In the old days getting signed was the entry point to going somewhere. VERY FEW MADE ANY MONEY. Labels are getting less and less important, as it is easier to produce yourself, and promote yourself. So you now many more competitors as almost anyone with a computer can make passable music. VERY FEW WILL MAKE ANY MONEY.
    Some suggestions on what to do:
    42 Revenue Streams

    Reply
    • cmonkey

      Yes, radio streaming services ARE essentially promotional, but perhaps you should clarify that broadcast radio DOES pay substantial PUBLISHING royalties. Radio in the United States pays artists very well as songwriters while it rips them off as musicians. Broadcast royalties that are derived from radio and television advertisers has ALWAYS been the main income for pop artists.
      Just as much now as thruout the last century, music works symbiotically with advertising revenue. The collection agencies distribute ad money from broadcast media, but Google has hijacked ad revenue from the internet so basically none goes back to the creative infrastructure.

      Reply
  16. FarePlay

    “Yes, eventually streaming will replace ownership-based music consumption, but the “devaluing” of music by streaming services like Spotify is overblown at best & a total myth at worst.”

    Why don’t you 2 just cut through all the BS. If you want to make a point about the future of music being streaming, there is no argument there. But you guys are so intent on being right, making a point and defending your position, you become dishonest. Enough of the streaming doesn’t diminish sales, we all know that’s a lie.

    And yes, when digital re-created the sale of singles over albums that was a serious blow. And yes, streaming will be another major hit to the ability of artists to make money and survive. So for now, excuse me while I support the sale of physical product, why would you or anyone be opposed to keeping the sale of physical product and paid digital downloads alive. What bothers you about it? Is it all about your ego and intimidation?

    We have an entire generation of people over forty, some of whom prefer to own “product” and while that may not be for you, why the fuck do you care? What, you’re afraid we’re standing in the way of your world? I’m sure in your own resentful contempt for other viewpoints your mouth is turning up into a sneer.

    So bring it on. Your hate only damages your credibility, not mine.

    Reply
    • jw

      Your delusions have gotten the best of you, FairPay. Neither GGG nor I are against ownership. I buy vinyl all of the time, I picked up a reissue of John Mayall’s Hard Road on vinyl just last weekend. I even buy CDs… I’ve picked up 4 CDs this year, & a 52-disc ABCs of the Blues box set. I even buy the occasional mp3 or digital album on amazon or bandcamp just to support artists. I do feel like digital downloads are severely overpriced, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I have no problem with anyone owning anything.

      So you don’t have to defend ownership against me or GGG. However, you say nasty things about streaming all of the time, & we both feel the need to defend it. Do you see the difference there? The real problem here is this attitude of “My beliefs are right, & I don’t feel the need to prove that they’re right, you just have to believe me.”

      You wanna know why I believe that streaming isn’t devaluing music? It’s not because my gut told me so, it’s because of math. Although if I asked my gut, it would probably agree with my math. If a music fan listens to 1 hour of music per day, whether he or she pays $12 for a CD at Target or listens to that music on Spotify, the artist is going to receive the same total payout. Now the Spotify user is more likely to split that listening hour between more artists & so the payout will be distributed accordingly, but that’s totally fair. So yes an artist is receiving a lower payout, but jumping to the conclusion that music is therefore being devalued would be incorrect. The payout totals, instead, reflect variety of artists being played. Now if music is remained valued at $12 per year at one daily listening hour, & if variety is to continue to be enabled, Spotify must scale according to that variety in order for artists to receive payouts that are equal to what the payments otherwise would’ve been.

      This might be easier for you to understand. Suzy Q buys a Radiohead album at Target for $12 & listens to it every day for a year. Jane Doe has a Spotify account & listens to 30 minutes of the Radiohead album & 30 minutes of Atoms For Peace per day. In each case Thom Yorke is making the same money, even though the payout totals for Radiohead & Atoms For Peace seem to be “devalued” by half. But let’s say Jack Sparrow comes along, who hasn’t paid for a CD in the last 10 years. And he signs up for Spotify & listens to Radiohead for 30 mins per day & Atoms For Peace for 30 mins per day. Now the payout totals return to a familiar size, only in truth the money Thom Yorke is earning has doubled. (These numbers all assume the artist is receiving 15% of a cd purchase, & that the artist is ultimately receiving $.00029 per stream, & that a song play is 3.5 minutes long.)

      That’s how I decide what’s fair or not, using stuff like mathematics (you might’ve heard of it). I’m not trying to convince anyone that my gut is all-knowing.

      And I’m not trying to sugarcoat anything… By enabling access to all of this music, Spotify is spreading the wealth across many more artists, & since the pie is being cut into many more, smaller pieces, the pie is going to have to grow tremendously (specifically, it’s going to have to grow according to the variety it’s enabling) in order for those pie slices to look like they once did. And Spotify is going to have to find a way to increase the premium-to-free ratio if it’s even going to keep the lights on longterm. And this per stream payout is going to correct the value of a lot of songs… all of the sudden your song isn’t worth $.99 out of the gate anymore, it could be worth $.01 or it could be worth $3.00, the fans decide. And a lot of artists are going to find that the true market value of their music is less than it was when ownership was the norm (which is to say that many songs were previously overvalued), & that will foster more dependence on record labels (for better or for worse).

      Now you can support physical sales & digital downloads until you’re blue in the face, for all I care. But there’s a difference between supporting those things & fighting the transition to streaming. If your argument is “I’m against streaming because the payouts are low, but I’m also against more people streaming,” well, payouts aren’t going to increase until more people are streaming lol. CD sales are a sinking ship (again, nothing against cd ownership, this is just an observation). And digital downloads are flattening. So it just seems far more reasonable to me that we accept streaming services & do everything in our power to aid in this format transition so that when you can’t even get a laptop with a cd player anymore, & when the bottom falls out of digital downloads (which it inevitably will), there’s actually something there to fall back on. Resisting streaming is no different than the industry resisting digital downloads in the early ’00s. It’s a very bad move, which is setting the industry up for more calamity.

      Now regarding sales versus streaming, this is anecdotal, but of the people I know who stream, the ones who didn’t buy music before still don’t buy music, & the ones who did buy music before often buy more music. I buy a ton more music than I did before streaming. Streaming may have a moderately negative effect on digital download sales, but you’re going to have to make the argument that the hit on digital downloads isn’t more than made up for by revenue generated by consumers who stream but haven’t purchased music in years & years. And I don’t get the impression that you’re equipped to make that argument. There’s just not evidence that users begin to stream & abandon ownership, or that most streamers even bought music to begin with. That seems to be the big hole in your argument, you’re discounting the tremendous number of music fans who simply do not buy music who are or may become monetized streamers.

      Now you can agree with that, or disagree with that. But I’d like to see some evidence… some mathematics, some data, some behavior examples, not just more of your opinion.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I wouldn’t expect much from this guy jw. He really does seem like he is in his own little world. It’s as if he found some written collection of failed RIAA talking points from 2001 and is convinced it will work in 2013.

        Reply
        • FarePlay

          Closure. Well I can’t say it has been educational or entertaining, but it has been interesting.

          Jw / GGG I’m less interested in debating with you, than I am putting forth an opposing opinion that some people will agree with and some will not. Like too many musicians before me, I choose not to be silenced by intimidation. I don’t assume the readers of this stuff are idiots and have learned by now that there always exists a series of reports, studies and “facts” that support both sides of every argument. So when you guys ask for the facts, you are only wasting my time and taking attention away from the key arguments that you really don’t want to have.

          1. For most artists, the internet and streaming of music in particular has not been a good thing for their ability to earn money and survive.

          2. These ephemeral streams of revenue that GGG loves to lean on and point out my “lack” of imagination or being current, just haven’t panned out………… in well over a decade.

          3. My objectives are pretty simple, I represent the artists in this debate and am working with others to create a voice and a coalition, so the artists can speak their reality to the world. With the intent that a significant number of people will see through all the BS and begin to understand what musicians are up against.

          Sidebar: The audience has already begun to change their opinions about artists and artists’ rights as reflected in the comments in a recent NYT Post: http://goo.gl/2At6ND

          4. And when we talk about physical property, while JW claims to be an avid collector, and I have no reason to doubt him, that doesn’t match up with his support of physical product as a niche revenue stream that has value to the music business and musicians and songwriters in particular. I know you’ll latch onto this comment with some sideways rationale. Yawn.

          5. This has been a transformational year, where we’ve seen for the first time, a steady stream of artists stepping forward and speaking out about a digital economy focussed on corporate profits without consideration for artists. Like I always do at this point I simply refer to David Lowery’s New Boss, Old Boss post for more details. http://goo.gl/o4KSD

          In the future, don’t expect FarePlay to respond to your comments, as I have no expectation that you will respond to mine. I’m not here to debate the issues with you, i mean really how pointless is that?

          Reply
          • GGG

            1. Correct, which is why figuring out how to monetize it is priority number 1, not something we should avoid. However, I could also argue many artists even have a career because of the internet. I’m sure you will argue otherwise since I’m not sure you know how the internet works passed this website.

            2. They pan out perfectly well for artists I work with and other artists I know. Many, most actually of the ones I work with have made more money from other things than album sales. Once again, you just lack imagination, relationships, and an actual desire to try new/different things.

            3. I feel bad for any artist that claims you as their representative.

          • jw

            Jw / GGG I’m less interested in debating with you, than I am putting forth an opposing opinion that some people will agree with and some will not.

            So what you’re saying is that your views are entirely dogmatic. At least we can agree on that. I’m pretty glad we got to that conclusion, for posterity.

            1. lol. The factors that lead to the collapse of the industry from 2000 through mid-2011 continued to affect the industry after Spotify launched in the U.S. If you’re shifting that blame to Spotify, you’ve got a bigger imagination than I thought. There are a lot of things making it difficult for artists to make a living, Spotify isn’t one of them.

            2. Spotify launched in the U.S. in mid-2011.

            3. You’re speaking dogma into the world, FairPay, let’s be clear on that, not reality. Artists have spoken out against streaming, & I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they just don’t totally understand the streaming economy & what that looks like at scale. And they shouldn’t have to. But I would have a hard time believing any of those artists would desire to be represented by you, an individual who confesses to having no interest in facts or figures or reality or the potential of technology change the fortunes of the recorded music industry for the better (see: Sweden).

            4. I would latch onto this but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. I think physical sales are awesome. Vinyl is the best music experience we have right now, but it will always be very niche for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain. And I think there will always be value to interesting contextualizations of music. I just believe that the format as simply a delivery mechanism for recorded music is outmoded. And there is potentially much more money in the per play model than by selling outdated formats of music.

            Sidebar: Things from the ’70s that have, along with CDs, fallen out of fashion… bellbottoms, rotary land line telephones, polaroid cameras, betamax, the pocket calculator, telephone directories, classified ads…

            5. You & Prof. Lowery are two peas in a pod, he’s not interested in reality, either.

            Fairpay doesn’t have to respond to jw, but jw will continue to respond to Fairpay because Fairpay’s comments are propaganda. I actually can’t think of anything less pointless than debating the issue. But I probably just think that because reality, facts, figures, data, reason, etc. are all on my side. So I do understand where you’re coming from. If all I had in my back pocket was a handful of dogmatic talking points, I wouldn’t want to debate me either.

            Glad we had this talk.

    • Anonymous

      Hey man, since you are such a huge fan of CDs can you recommend me a portable CD player? All the ones on Amazon have horrible reviews. 🙂

      Reply
    • GGG

      You’re a fucking joke. I’m not even sure you read my posts. I think you just make up shit in your head to make me look like the bad guy and respond to your own delusions. I mean, I don’t know how many more times I can say promote physical sales all you want. I am not anti-physical, I am anti ignoring culture/technology/other revenue streams. Go tell 1000 people their favorite band’s CD is $5 and DL is $10. I’m fairly certain more will just get the DL because it’s how shit works these days. Doesn’t mean don’t try to sell physical, all the bands I work with except one sell vinyl. But also understand that unless some monumental cultural shift happens, it doesn’t make sense it ignore digital or touring or merch or licenses or streaming or all these things you seem to think are evil.

      Reply
  17. Anonymous

    Spotify pays enough per stream. It just needs more users to make it worthwhile.

    Reply
    • GGG

      No, they don’t. But the payouts will increase as users increase. I don’t think it’s out of the question to see penny/play royalties across the board (probably over for majors) once subscribers hits much larger numbers.

      Reply
      • jr565

        When artists are million sellers they make crap on Spotify. Imagine the streaming profits of a band that sells 10,000 CD’s. IF they make a dollar, they’ll be lucky.

        Reply
  18. red wig

    Bunch of idiots.Try making some fucking music and then understand what it means to be forced to give it away for peanuts. I get .006 cent per play. No big record deal. Just a crippling curse to make music. Seriously claiming MP3 sound better than vinyl? hah. Get a job. I had to.

    Reply
  19. Dave

    My artist gets about 2000 streams a day on Spotify. He takes home around $300 a month for that level of play.
    Spotify is better than Pandora or some of the other services because a fan can listen to just his music, rather than only hear a song every hour or so on the radio like services. Spotify revenues have grown over time and he sometimes makes about the same amount on Spotify as on iTunes sales, depending if any new music has been released lately. He has no terrestrial radio airplay, so Spotify and YouTube are really the only way new fans will get to hear his music, other than stumbling into a live show.

    Reply
    • GGG

      Ya, that seems to be a normal payout, that should rise, maybe even double with a few million more subscribers. My artists don’t get that many spins but basically the same pay percent.

      Just out of curiosity, how big is their fan base, using Facebook as an arbitrary metric? And also, were they active/popular before Spotify or are they a newer artist?

      Reply
    • Genuinely Curious

      Dave, that would be an average of 60,000 per month, right? I have a few questions – how do you know how many streams he gets? I’m not on Spotify as an artist or listener, & have no clue how one finds this number. Did he get to this level organically, or is there some way to promote an artist on Spotify? This rate ($300/month) seems much higher than what most artists say they are making – does the Spotify payout vary? And what factors determine why your artist would get $300 for 60,000 plays & another would only get $70 for a million plays?

      Not being a smart-ass or anything, I truly want to understand. Thanks for any insights you can provide.

      Reply
      • GGG

        Not Dave, but I can answer some of these. Spotify lists total plays of top ten tracks so you can check there, and you get the statement through whoever you use to distribute, CD Baby, Tunecore, whatever. So you see your stream totals.

        $300 a month seems high because most artists don’t have any fans. For every artist at Beck’s level that complains about pay there’s 50 artists with 200 fans who are lucky if they get 2000 streams a year. Getting 2K streams a day means this artist is fairly well known.

        Payouts do vary. but half a penny is my artists’ average for the most part, as well. We’ve seen payouts get up to 8/10ths though, and Zoe Keating’s post on this site can corroborate with that, as well. Any artist that’s getting $70 for a million plays is the victim of their deal with label/management/whatever. Even at the lowest payout, a million plays is grossing you a few grand.

        Reply
        • Genuinely Curious

          Thanks, GGG. Do you know what factors determine ½¢ per stream vs 8/10¢ per? I’ll find Zoe’s post when I get a few minutes to read. Just wondering if it is anything the artist has control over or if it’s just a factor of how streaming subscriptions work. (720 hours available to listen on avg, per month; last month subscriber “A” used 400, this month she uses 325, therefore her cost per hour goes up due to flat monthly rate, meaning more profit per stream.)

          I’m trying to decide if I want to pop a track or two up there & see if it has any discernible effect on anything that I can track. Same thing with YouTube.

          Reply
          • GGG

            I don’t know if anyone outside Spotify knows how it truly works, but there are differences in majors vs indies vs DIY, free user stream vs subscriber, and I imagine popularity, as well. I might be completely wrong, but I imagine a more popular track/artists might get scaled up a little compared to one that gets significantly less plays. I don’t think the hours really matter per se, but it does factor into ad rev if they are free and get commercials, so in the end it affects it, but not on that individual level I don’t imagine. But I don’t know.

          • Genuinely Curious

            Thanks for your input. 🙂 I may give it a go with a limited number of tracks just to see what happens.

  20. JohnnyB

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    Reply
  21. Thanatopsis

    This guy is a Scientologist, therefore his judgement is clearly extremely flawed. How can anyone believe their whole story about Xenu. Although I guess it’s no more ridiculous than people believing 2 of every creature got on one boat.

    Reply
  22. Relaxed Royalty Free Production - Coconut MP3 - InstantDownloadNow

    […] Beck on Spotify: “The Model Doesn’t Work. And the Quality Sucks.”Digital Music NewsThe model doesn’t work, so we have to come up with ways in which people can help us to make music for free, or at least for much less. But the current way isn’t working, something’s gotta give. If I tried to make my albums with that Spotify pays me …2013-11-13 23:56:41 […]

    Reply
  23. BYO

    The arguments being made here assume that every time someone’s record gets streamed that artist gets paid “x” amount of money, but that “x” is variable and minute. The fact is if I were to pay $10 a month to subscribe to a streaming service such as Spotify and listened to the just one artist 10 times during that month, the artist wouldn’t get even 1% of that $10. As a musician, songwriter and owner of an independent label for over 30 years, I know first hand how music has been devalued (it’s referred to as “content” by Spotify, Itunes etc) as just another commodity. Music is not just another commodity to millions of people, but as long as digital companies are allowed to “use” someone’s art, sell it (without permission btw, Spotify doesn’t need permission to play music, neither does Pandora, etc) and pay only a fraction of the income they collect for that to the artists, then less and less artist will be able to make music. http://skindie.com/post/88306096112/why-spotify-sucks-for-independent-artists

    Reply
  24. Mike

    The argument that Beck couldn’t make an album based off what Spotify pays him is a total logic fail. What about the rest of your sources of income? Ticket sales? Cry me a river. Complaining without suggestions to improve something is just wasted breath. Spotify is better for new and indie artists anyway, letting musicians gain notoriety without weight of huge record companies on their backs and contracts. Maybe your music doesn’t get as many plays because there’s a bigger variety of stuff to listen to on Spotify than just chart topping popular music.

    Reply

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