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Spotify Blames Coldplay and Other Artists for Withholding Their Music…

The reason you can’t hear Coldplay’s latest album on Spotify is because they don’t want you to.

spotifycoldplay

And the same goes for the Black Keys, deadmau5, Taylor Swift, and other ‘uncooperative’ artists.

spotifybeyonce

“The notion that you would want to withhold records from people who are paying 120 pounds or euros or dollars a year is just really mind-boggling. It’s pretty hostile to punish your best customers and fans. We think it’s a wrongheaded approach.”

Ken Parks, chief content officer and managing director, Spotify US.

 

 

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Comments (76)
  1. Anonymous

    Why is ‘uncooperative’ in quotes? Did Spotify use that word somewhere, or is it just misleading?


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Does it matter?

      Spotify is its own worst enemy. It doesn’t need reporters to look bad.


      Reply
      1. Danwriter

        Actually, it’s very important. Anonymous #1 is asking if the source in the story used the word or if the writer did, which would constitute editorializing. Paul should respond to this. (And decide if your style is double or single quotes.)


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “Actually, it’s very important”

          No, not in this case — Spotify is the Spotify killer here.

          Paul should respond to this. (And decide if your style is double or single quotes.)

          I didn’t use any quotes. Decide if you’re addressing Paul or me.


          Reply
  2. David

    If I remember rightly, Spotify don’t give artists/labels the option of only streaming to premium customers – the ones paying 120 dollars/pounds/euros a year. So the Spotify statement is just cheeky. Also, in what sense are people who aren’t willing to buy your records your ‘best customers’?? And it surely it isn’t true that they have decided ‘not to release this album on Spotify’ – just not yet.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Just to keep it fair, the band did withhold the record from paid-only services like Rhapsody, so it doesn’t appear to be an issue of free vs paid. $120/yr is a lot of money to spend on music compared to most people, which is what the quote probably means by best customers. Streaming is the reason why the music business is growing again in many places like the UK. Holding back music from legit services only drives people to places like YouTube, SoundCloud, etc, to find that music and those services don’t pay nearly as well as Spotify. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.


      Reply
      1. Kev

        Actually that’s not true YouTube pays a lot more to the artist that Spotify.


        Reply
    2. PiratesWinLOL

      You can’t ask your fans to live in a technological stoneage. That won’t fly for long. The streaming customers has also been proven to be those who on average pay the most for their music. That obviously makes them the best customers.

      Really, it is great that Spotify is finally applying a little bit pressure to these greedy, short sighted artists.


      Reply
      1. Paul Resnikoff

        “The streaming customers has also been proven to be those who on average pay the most for their music.”

        I think it depends on the other activities of that ‘customer’. If that person is also a vinyl customer, or a regular merch or live show buyer, then you would be accurate. Whether streaming is the cause of that broader purchasing is another debate entirely, and largely speculative. Broadly speaking, streaming ‘customers’ pay very little for music.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “streaming ‘customers’ pay very little for music”

          And artists get none of it.

          But where did you find this weird statement? Was it really meant to go public?

          I can’t imagine why a company would use the words ‘hostile’, ‘punish’ and ‘wrongheaded’ about the people they desperately need in order to survive.

          Spotify has expressed many extreme views in the past. But this may be known as the company’s official suicide note.


          Reply
            1. Anonymous

              “Got it from Fast Company. It’s published.”

              This has to be an old story — not even Spotify would use this sort of mafia strategy today:

              “It’s ridiculous to think that an 18-year-old kid who is denied access to listening on Spotify is going to run to iTunes and buy it. That’s not the way it works. They’re going to go to the torrent sites.”

              Today, we know that kids do buy their favorite songs from iTunes when they’re unavailable on Spotify.

              Taylor Swift, Adele, Beyoncé etc. proved that.


              Reply
      2. Anonymous

        “short sighted artists”

        Hm, who could you possible mean? Adele, Coldplay, Black Keys, Taylor Swift?

        Oh wait, I think you may be talking about Beyoncé!

        Here’s what you said about her legendary anti-streaming success in December:

        “it is just some silly arty-farty project, which very few will care about” :)

        And here’s what you said about it a couple of months later:

        “Very few has cared about her silly arty-farty project”

        Last month, Time magazine selected Beyoncé as the cover star for the magazine’s special 100 Most Influential People issue, crediting her for shattering music-industry rules and sales records.

        But I guess you didn’t see that one coming.

        Which makes you kind of short-sighted — don’t you think, pirate?


        Reply
      3. An

        I hate spotify.
        They always come from the extortion angle: oh, give me your music or my friend over there will STEAL IT!


        Reply
        1. GGG

          Were you in a coma for the last 15 years?


          Reply
    3. stopped reading at

      “rightly”


      Reply
      1. Jonny

        I stopped reading at “Coldplay”


        Reply
      2. Jonny

        …..stopped reading at Coldplay


        Reply
    4. Anonymous

      “in what sense are people who aren’t willing to buy your records your ‘best customers’??”

      Spot on — if Spotify thinks this is the way to win artists over, they’re in for a surprise.

      I would never, ever in a million years touch a company like this…


      Reply
  3. TruthSeeker

    The word “uncooperative” has to be in quotes because it is NOT something Ken Parks said – or even implied.

    In fact, what he said about artist who choose not to allow their music on Spotify is:

    But I want to be very clear. We are not at all demonizing people who have a different point of view. We think that most of the world has been living in a different paradigm for the entire history of recorded music. They’re used to unit sales. It’s very difficult for some not only to get their mind around a new format but a new business model. It would be silly to think that entrenched behavior and habits–that have developed over a century–are going to change overnight. Look at iTunes in 2003: There was an uproar at the notion of selling records on an unbundled basis. There were high-profile holdouts including Radiohead, who thought it marked the end of the world. Controversies like this are not new. It is not surprising that there will be some taking a pause. It’s thankfully a very short list. Most artists are extremely excited to be associated with this platform.”

    This site is like a textbook for inflamatory, misleading “reporting,” obviously biased editing and failure to cite sources.

    Since they won’t give it to you, here’s the actual article:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/1821063/spotify-exec-ken-parks-windowing-mind-boggling-very-bad-hostile

    I’d call it yellow journalism but, that would be an insult to actual journalists who happen to engage in the practice…


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      I would challenge the premise of those comments, TruthSeeker, because it is essentially stating that any artist that refuses to license or otherwise cooperate with Spotify is a backward, tech-phobic Luddite that just needs to get with it. Parks says nothing about the extremely problematic payout structures, low royalty amounts, or other issues that make it financially and strategically advantageous to window or completely avoid Spotify for many artists.


      Reply
      1. TruthSeeker

        Paul Resnikoff“I would challenge the premise of those comments, TruthSeeker, because it is essentially stating that any artist that refuses to license or otherwise cooperate with Spotify is a backward, tech-phobic Luddite that just needs to get with it.”

        And that’s what Parks (who works at Spotify, eh?) thinks.

        But as I point out, the quote actually STARTS OUT with his acknowledgment that he understands that others don’t – and likely shouldn’t – share his view. Isn’t that enough for you?

        Were you expecting him to apologize for having his own perspective on the issue, at all?

        Services like Spotify are the future, and no amount of windowing is going to change our march towards that future, no matter how much you or Chris Martin think it should or might.

        Paul Resnikoff“Parks says nothing about the extremely problematic payout structures, low royalty amounts, or other issues that make it financially and strategically advantageous to window or completely avoid Spotify for many artists.”

        Well, I can think of several reasons why he wouldn’t say anything about those issues, can’t you?

        1) The article (short interview, actually) is ONLY about Windowing. Not royalties, payouts or anything else.

        2) Parks likely doesn’t see ANY “problems” with payout structures, or allegedly low royalty amounts. Those are YOUR personal windmills. Not his (again, he works at Spotify, eh?)

        3) He actually DOES talk about the misunderstanding that it is NOT financially or strategically advantageous to window or completely avoid Spotify.

        “These artists believe that streaming might negatively affect their sales. Is this simply a myth? And if so, why do these artists believe it to be true?

        Certainly it’s not supported at all by data and facts. There’s no data to suggest that it does [negatively affect] sales. To the contrary, our indicators point out that if you want to increase sales, you ought to be increasing access to your music. People want to listen to music–they don’t want a 30-second sample. It’s kind of wrongheaded to think you’re creating scarcity by withholding [music from Spotify]. When you withhold a record on Spotify, it is available on torrent sites, on Grooveshark, as well as on YouTube likely. You’re not creating any kind of scarcity. The very same bands who are withholding from streaming services are often available for free to users on YouTube, which doesn’t monetize nearly as well as Spotify. If you think that promoting your record via streaming is a good thing for sales on YouTube, there is no reason as all to withhold it on Spotify. So it’s kind of a head-scratcher–there is a bit of schizophrenia, I think, in the camp that wants to withhold their stuff. It’s ridiculous to think that an 18-year-old kid who is denied access to listening on Spotify is going to run to iTunes and buy it. That’s not the way it works. They’re going to go to the torrent sites.”

        Windowing is dumb.

        Ken Parks pf Spotify thinks so, and said so (along with a bunch of other stuff you saw fit to actively keep from your readers), when TechCrunch asked him about his thoughts on it.

        This is far less shocking than your needlessly inflamatory headline and article suggest.


        Reply
        1. David

          I thought it was now pretty much common ground – as well as common sense – that sales are declining as streaming rises. Are you denying this, or are you suggesting that it is true in aggregate, but not in the specific cases from which the aggregate is derived? Which would be quite a heroic stretch of argument.


          Reply
            1. Anonymous

              Real life evidence — Adele, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé — proves that windowing is the way to go if you wish to make money in the industry today.


              Reply
  4. R.P.

    I’m not leaving my Spotify to go search for your song and then open it up on youtube, I’m just not going to listen to your new album i guess. oh well. the music keeps playing.


    Reply
    1. FarePlay

      Perhaps that’s true for artists your mildly interested in or have been recommended by a friend. But if you seriously care about music, you will get the music you really want. Even if you have to buy it.

      If you’re fine with pirate sites you’ll find it there for free.


      Reply
  5. David Rosen

    Obviously an artist these services suck… But as a music listener, it just means it’s gonna be a pain in the ass for me to listen to the new Black Keys album. And by pain in the ass I mean I’m gonna have to switch over to the Google Play Music app for that one album.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Much easier to go to YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAq6It-J3HQ and rip it for your BK fix. That’s what any kid who uses Spotify would do if he really wanted the album. More likely that kid just listens to something else.


      Reply
    2. PiratesWinLOL

      As a listener I wouldn’t even care. On my streaming service they got 11 other albums and then there is the other ~30 million tracks I can listen to. If they want to wait they can do that. I am prepared to wait until hell freezes over.


      Reply
      1. David Rosen

        Yea but I’m a music fan and like to listen when a band I like puts out a new album. I just like as many of them as possible to be in one place… And Spotify is that place, and I rarely remember that other albums exist… Even the ones I actually purchase.


        Reply
      2. Anonymous

        “I am prepared to wait until hell freezes over”

        But that’s just because you’re an old pirate.

        Kids want new songs! They don’t want museums.

        That’s why they go straight to iTunes when stars like Beyoncé boycott streaming services.


        Reply
          1. Anonymous

            Beyoncé’s super bestseller recently proved that kids buy their music from iTunes if it isn’t available for free on Spotify or YouTube.

            This is the most important lesson the music industry has learned since 1999.


            Reply
  6. JTVDigital

    Spotify shall not put the blame on ‘artists’, they usually have no clue what their managers or record labels are deciding on their behalf when it comes to these sort of things.


    Reply
    1. TruthSeeker

      Oh jeez….

      I guess you can’t be blamed for NOT actually reading the article/interview, since Paul is too busy selectively editing to suit only his agenda to actually point you to the source or give you all the information, but…

      Parks specifically notes that this windowing practice is NOT a function of the labels, who typically want to capitalize all of their assets, wherever possible, all the time, but is instead actually driven by select artists with enough clout to force their labels to hold their material back.

      You should know that the typical catalog license deal with a label for a service like Spotify usually covers the entire catalog of repertoire, with provision for those rare exceptions if the label can’t provide some portion of it, for good reasons (like contractual limitations).


      Reply
      1. Paul Resnikoff

        One of the reasons why labels (especially major labels) liberally license is because they are getting a gigantic upfront cut that is typically not shared with the artist. Not to mention lucrative percentages that will balloon in the event of a massive IPO. If Coldplay were part of that deal, I think we’d all be listening to their latest album on Spotify right now.


        Reply
        1. Me

          So, then why are artists still complaining about Spotify not paying them instead of complaining about the labels not paying them?


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            “why are artists still complaining about Spotify not paying them instead of complaining about the labels not paying them?”

            It’s perfectly possible to complain about both.


            Reply
          2. JTVDigital

            Because most of them are maintained in a state of ignorance by their managers, labels…etc.
            Remember, “knowledge is power”


            Reply
      2. JTVDigital

        I know very well how it works, thanks. And artists (almost) never have their word regarding these things.
        This is how it usually works (in all other cases this is part of a release strategy that was planned ahead, very rare):
        an artist manager suddenly gets mad about streaming, sometimes after listening to their artists’ complains about low revenues (whereas they should complain about their label not paying them the revenue collected from streaming…another story), sometimes just because they do not understand it, fear it or just cannot adapt to the new market realities (artist managers are usually aged 40-50 and still nostalgic about the “good old days”).
        So, they call the label (not the major label central offices, the label (division) their artist signed the record deal with), saying “Mr/Ms Artist does not want his/her new album available on Spotify”.
        The label guy, scared to lose his job if trying to argue with Mr Artist Manager, immediately says “yes sure”.
        Label calls/emails the mother company headquarters (the entity who owns the label/division), where the digital supply chain is managed from (= where third-party contractors managing the supply chain are supervised from).
        So Mr Label asks the label coordinator at the headquarters to avoid streaming on that release.
        Mr Label coordinator (or any available person, trainee…etc with enough balls to be in touch with the label division head) says yes sure, because he/she is scared to lose his/her job if trying to argue.
        Then it goes up to the person in charge of managing/coordinating digital supply chain globally, this person says yes again for the same reasons, then after more calls and emails to various people from the operational chain, there is someone who finally “unticks the box” to prevent the release to be made available as streaming.
        If for some reason the box remains ticked (if the release is made available as streaming), or if there is a system bug, Mr Small-Guy-At-The-End-Of-The-Chain gets fired, in order to make Mr Artist manager happy / show that instructions from the Artist are taken seriously, blablabla.
        Nowhere in the process there is room for talking to the artist or their manager and make them realize avoiding streaming is, for them, a direct loss of sales / revenues of approx. 30%.
        I hope you enjoyed the story :-)


        Reply
        1. TruthSeeker

          If you think the managers of artists who have enough clout to have their label pull masters from digital streaming services – managers of artists like Coldplay, Beyonce and Taylor Swift – are running around pulling their clients’ material off of these services without it being specifically and directly driven by the artist themselves then, no, you really don’t know how it works.

          Goofy story, indicating that you only fantasize about what good managers actually might do for their clients.


          Reply
          1. JTVDigital

            Just sharing some experience, but if you say so you must probably be right… in major labels a lot more people than you can imagine have no clue about how ‘digital’ works, never forget the majority come from the ‘old world’.
            If artists were really aware about the implications of streaming vs. not streaming in terms of revenue they’d never ever ask (directly or indirectly) for their music to be pulled down from Spotify or others.
            How do you explain that the same artists that are not on Spotify have tons of content available on YouTube? Do they realize how YT can cannibalize their download sales, much more than any audio-only streaming service?
            This does not make any sense if you take a step back.
            Reasons are simple: major labels are giant organizations with conflicts of interests at all levels; messy content management strategy; numerous decisions layers; lack of technical knowledge with regards of digital content exploitation; fear or change…etc. As in any other big companies from other sectors.


            Reply
  7. Alex

    Out of the $120/year spotify gets, how much are you paying Coldplay, black keys, etc? $3-$4$5/year? Of course they won’t let you play it. I am a music fan, and as you might know, Ac/dc, metallica, led zeppelin, they don’t stream most of their music, and guess what!.. I go and buy it cause I don’t care if it’s not on spotify or google play, I just go and buy it and I’m glad is that way. Come on spotify, your system works only for your technology company, not for artists.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Actually, Led Zeppelin and Metallica went on Spotify in the last year. As did Pink Floyd. There’s a trend. Remember, AC/DC and the Beatles took almost a decade to go in iTunes. That some bands are slow to adapt to new models doesn’t really mean much in terms of the long term trends.


      Reply
      1. Me

        And the main reason The Beatles weren’t on iTunes for so long was the Apple vs. Apple issue.


        Reply
    2. GGG

      I’ve listened to countless artists I NEVER would have listened to without Spotify. So they got a few cents from me they otherwise would not have made. There are many people like me, as well, so it can add up. I’ve also discovered artists I’m big fans of now on Spotify. A couple I’ve bought their music, but any band I enjoy that I find on Spotify I try to see when they come to NYC. I also buy posters a lot. So Spotify has benefited a number of bands, as far as me giving them money I otherwise would not have is concerned. They forfeited $9.99, gained a ticket sale, merch sale and fan.


      Reply
  8. Meezil

    According to Ken Parks, “Chief Content Owner and Managing Director, Spotify US,” it’s illogical for artists to withhold audio from Spotify because it punished fans. Is he joking? Maybe it’s because artists don’t see much (if anything) come from participating with Spotify in terms of revenue. With a title like the one Mr. Parks’ has, he sounds like he fancies himself the “owner” of Spotify’s content. In the real world, their content belongs to the artists (they they’re not paying royalties to). They don’t see squat from the 120 pounds. Most of that goes to Ken, who doesn’t believe it’s important to properly compensate artists for their work. Screw him.


    Reply
    1. What?

      “Magic’ has currently clocked over 55 mil streams. That gives the coldplay’s label about $385,000.00 for 1 track in 1 month.

      There is money in streaming.

      The windowing will give Coldplay’s label a good chunk of cash from iTunes on release week, then it will be on Spotify.

      iTunes is dying though so I doubt this trend will continue for too much longer.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        “iTunes is dying”

        Um no, it’s bigger than ever!

        While Spotify’s losing cash and stars.


        Reply
        1. tippysdemise

          iTunes is old. And it feels old. Apple has ceded a tremendous amount of ground on streaming and knows it.


          Reply
  9. Anonymous

    At least it makes it easy to tell which artists are only in it for the money. It just makes Coldplay and The Black Keys look like greedy assholes. But at least we all already knew the drummer from the Black Keys was an ass, and Coldplay hasn’t put out a good album since X & Y so it makes little difference to me.


    Reply
  10. FarePlay

    Interesting move by Spotify. It could backfire on them.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      Yea, it will really hurt all that great, positive press Spotify is always getting….


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        :)


        Reply
  11. Tamas

    Huge lie…. “people who are paying 120 pounds or euros or dollars a year” – TO SPOTIFY. Coldplay doesn’t get 120 dollars after every people who is listening their songs… (Unless every person listen the songs of Coldplay 17,000 times per year which is impossible) Ken Parks, you are a huge, greedy liar.


    Reply
  12. What

    This is basically irrelevant. We are going STREAMING. It’s does not matter what Spotify or Coldplay do now. In 2 oe 3 years NOBODY will be buying downloads.


    Reply
    1. Tamas

      People saying the same to vinyl and CD all the time for years now…. still lot of people buying physical records. I know some people who make a decent living from ONLY selling music, and not touring.


      Reply
      1. Rowdy

        I also know people who still make a living from selling MP3 players.


        Reply
  13. LALAKER

    Die Die Spotify! Die Die Spotify! and All You Streaming Demons!


    Reply
  14. RM

    Don’t put your music on Spotify and hope people buy it instead? Yeah right, watch them turn back to torrents. OLD SCHOOL thinking still dominates the music industry.


    Reply
  15. George Johnson

    Spotify should stop withholding royalties and start paying the 9.1 cents per stream minimum statutory rate here in America and artists might stop “withholding”. Just a thought.


    Reply
    1. Casey

      So you think they should start charging $90-100 per month?


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Either that or shut down, I couldn’t care less.


        Reply
    2. George is wrong

      George, the figure you quoted is the mechanical rate set for a SALE of digital download or a track off a physical release and that goes to the publisher, not the label/artist.

      Get your facts straight before posting online.


      Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Ironic that it’s the artists that actually have the private jets and mansions that do shit like this.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Yes, they have private jets because they’re smart.


      Reply
  17. mdti

    >>>>>
    The notion that you would want to withhold records from people who are paying 120 pounds or euros or dollars a year is just really mind-boggling. It’s pretty hostile to punish your best customers and fans. We think it’s a wrongheaded approach
    >>>>>

    Well, in the real world and basic logics, you usually don’t sell anything to someone who paid someone else for something he doesn’t own. Fed up of those tyrans who think you are a moron and that they can spit on you using nice words and sentences.


    Reply
    1. mdti

      Their business model is outdated anyway, they are intermediaries only, something that the world want to get rid of in general (if people could, they would).


      Reply
  18. mdti

    >>>
    chief content owner
    >>>

    owner?


    Reply
  19. jw

    Paul, it’s absurd that you’re quoting from an article that’s more than 2 years old. That’s like a decade in this space.

    Also, I’ll second mdti’s comment… chief content owner? Chief content officer.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Thanks for the correction. I think the statement speaks volumes, and is extremely relevant in 2014.


      Reply
    2. mdti

      >>>
      Also, I’ll second mdti’s comment… chief content owner? Chief content officer.
      >>>

      aah, thanks, I was wondering if I should begin to become paranoid , but all good now, thanks !


      Reply
  20. John Bathgate

    And why is the UK discriminated against on monthly subscription? £10 is not the same as 10 € or $!


    Reply

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