The Huffington Post Asks Indies, ‘Are You Pulling Out of Spotify?’

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This could be one of the most critical junctures yet for Spotify — and maybe, the streaming space overall. Because Thom Yorke isn’t just a musician we all love, he’s one of the most influential musicians in the world.  And that includes the indie music world.

Which is why substantial and influential indie labels are actively reconsidering their support of Spotify, or pulling their music while pursuing other, more premium-paying options.  We know this because someone went out and asked a bunch of indies not only what they were thinking about Spotify, but what they were thinking of doing next.

That is, journalists Jason Cherkis and Timothy Stenovec of the Huffington Post, who bluntly asked indies what their next decisions might be.  Here are some of the answers.

Eric Hilton, Thievery Corporation/ESL Music.

I’ve always spoken out about Spotify and today’s streaming sites 100% negatively.  Thievery Corporation intends to join [Yorke] and not participate with Spotify, which is especially dangerous to the livelihood of artists.  Thank you Thom Yorke for having the guts to stand up to the new techno-feudalistic gulag exploiting all artists.

Laura Balance, cofounder/co-owner, Merge Records.

We would let [artists] refrain from having their music up there if that is what they prefer.  The only artist we have had do that for so far is Mark Eitzel.  He had us keep his record off Spotify for the first three months after it came out.

Todd Hyman, owner of Carpark Records.

It’s not like we get a ton of money from Spotify anyway.

Peanut Butter Wolf, founder of Stones Throw Records.

I barely think the good outweighs the bad.  But I don’t really push my artists for or against it.  Maybe I need to talk to Thom Yorke.

Caleb Braaten, founder of Sacred Bones

If a band wanted to be pulled we would happily do so.  Spotify for up-and-coming artists is more of a promotional platform than a money-making one… As we know now Spotify is not a money-making platform for anyone besides Spotify.

Jasper Goggins, label manager for Mad Decent.

As a small independent label I feel it is our primary duty to expose our artists to a larger audience and the best way to do that is to get their music in front of active consumers.  By removing music, you’re basically cutting off your nose to spite your face. Of course I would love it if the royalties were higher, but we also have the majority of our music on Soundcloud and that is the complete opposite model. We pay Soundcloud for the bandwidth!


[No comment.]

Major labels: Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment.

[No comment.]


Image: ‘Sermon on the Mount’ by Carl Heinrich Bloch (public domain)

37 Responses

  1. Yves Villeneuve

    Why support dogs like Spotify (.005)? Rhapsody (.01) is a much better investment.
    Spotify subscribers will eventually migrate to Rhapsody if there is a huge hole in Spotify’s artist offerings.
    Rhapsody recently expanded in all the territories Spotify is available.

  2. HansH

    “As we know now Spotify is not a money-making platform for anyone besides Spotify.”
    As far as I know Spotify still suffers a massive loss because of the royalties they pay. So the service is not making money at the time.
    Still some artist do:

    • Yves Villeneuve

      Rhapsody is profitable and compensates artists fairly because of the subscription fees they charge.
      The $64k question: how will Spotify become profitable? Scaling doesn’t work, ask Pandora. Spotify, like Pandora, cannot control ad revenues or bandwidth costs. What else can they do to become profitable with certainty?

      • GGG

        They’ve always stated their (longer-term) goal is to have a substantial subscriber base.

        • Yves Villeneuve

          That doesn’t answer my question.
          Plus, they are expanding on the backs of artists toward an uncertain profit future.

          • GGG

            Oh yea, forgot you can’t think above the level of an 8 year old, my bad.
            Rhapsody = profitable because it is essentially only subscribers.
            Spotify = profitable when they have a much higher number of subscribers.
            Whether they will shut off free at some point or have worked that into the equation I don’t know. But more subscriptions means more money.
            And now we get to numbers where it will be fun to see how you reinterpret and change what you’ve said before. According to this ) there are 6M subscribers. So using Spotify’s touted 30M users, that’s a 20% rate. But wait! You even say, and I agree, the 30M accounts for inactive users. So how many do you really think there are? 20M? 15M? Either way, it just makes that 6M look better and better in terms of turnover rate.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            You can spin this as much as you want, it won’t change the facts.
            More subscriptions means more costs unless consumers are conned into subscribing to a service they will never use.
            There are roughly 80 million registered Spotify users. At the most, 8 to 9 million are active. 6 million are paying. 1.5 million (6 mm / 4 paying tiers) are Premium subscribers paying artists the full rate.
            Roughly 90% of registered users are unlikely to continue using interactive streaming. Not their ideal passtimes.
            based on Hans Swedish stream rates,
            (.0008 (ad)+ .003 (unlimited) + .006 (mobile) + .0065 (Telia) + .0105 (premium) ) / 5 = .0053

          • GGG

            So more subscriptions doesn’t mean more cost for Rhapsody, though?
            You can’t seriously think not one investor did their due diligence to figure out if Spotify was likely to actually make money. It’s not like Ek went out and said “We can get 1 BILLION users!” and everyone was just “Wow, take $20M!” There’s obviously a plan to either stop free accounts at some point or a point at which the amount of subscribers pays more than enough for free users. Now, will they hit that threshhold is certainly, but unless we know what that number is, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t just pull random percentages out of your ass and cite them as facts.
            You say I’m spinning numbers and you just pull shit out of thin air. 90% won’t continue? Where’d that come from? The same brain that thinks Youtube underreports your shitty video because they have it out for you?

          • Visitor

            I really wish you two could spar in a more civilized manner.

      • HansH

        It’s a question I can’t answer.
        You and your fair Rhapsody. How much do you make from your Rhapsody streams? They may be fair and all but Rhapsody has never scaled and the total pay out is close to zero. Rhapsody accounts for less than 1% of my streaming income. Fair enough?

        • Yves Villeneuve

          Rhapsody has a minimum 1 million Premium(.01) subscribers. The absolute most that Spotify has is roughly 3 million Premium subscribers and I question that amount as many are part of Swedish Telia bundle where according to you only pays artists .006 .
          Maybe you should pay more attention to Rhapsody subscribers if your revenues only amount to 1% of total. Rhapsody recently expanded in all the territories Spotify is available, no excuse not to promote Rhapsody over Spotify… Thom Yorke got it right when it comes to attaining bargaining power through selective offerings.

          • Visitor

            You are so incorrect with your numbers, it’s almost liable. Thanks.

        • Tune Hunter

          Hans you must be a personal friend of Ek or Parker.
          Spotify and the mad dog followers in streaming race are cancer of the industry.

          They are shrinking the business to 25% of obvious to farmer actual potential.

          If they are allowed to continue as is the industry will plateau at 20 instead 100 billions.

          Lets send kids to kindergarten and get busy on Discovery Moment Monetization

          I will take streaming if we take away free Shazam – let them pay for adding a tune to the playlist.

          Shazam and ID guys are the entities that keep the “Global Music Store” open to all.
          Biggest industrial prostitutes we ever created. Time to earn money whiz kids!

          • DMN

            So charge people just for information? JUST for wanting to know who sings a song?

          • Tune Hunter

            Yes indeed!
            With internet and smart phones if you do not get money at discovery point you never will!
            We have ready discovery infrastructure and lets put it to work ASAP! Most of the piracy will by gone at the same time.

  3. Lynn S

    Ugh, Rhapsody is terrible. The mobile app was awful. Seriously, I have tried all of them and Spotify is the best (or least worst), but to each his/her own.
    That’s what kind of bugs me: all we hear about is how artists aren’t paid enough (no offense, but as a paying Spotify subscriber who also buys albums I like, that really is not my problem), yet little time is spent on how good any of these services work. With the iPod giving way to smartphones, it is actually very difficult to manage large libraries, and have the music work seamlessly on the go. There are major problems with all the big cloud services: Apple, Google, Amazon. I just had to deal with a big headache when a new CD I bought would not properly play through iTunes Match! There are little quirk issues with Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody, plus they have library gaps. Who knows what’s happening with MOG/Daisy.
    But my point is nobody has completely figured it out. I think that is a much bigger problem than artist payouts. These services really are not catching on, because none of them work completely. That is why all we read about is the chump change artists are receiving. Yeah, because no one is buying the product! Go walk down the street and ask people about Spotify. Almost no one I know uses it.

    • Me

      Really? Almost everyone I know uses it. It’s definitely more popular among the younger demographics, and has yet to catch on w/ the older demographics.

      • Lynn S

        The younger people I talk to also are not using it, but still doing some form of buying downloads and file sharing with friends. No Spotify. Plus the people who have used Spotify aren’t really sticking to it. I live in an area where everyone has a smartphone and broadband internet so pretty tech savvy. Even friends who are heavily into music are NOT using Spotify or the like. More likely to listen to SIRIUS XM.

        • Mr. West Is In the Building

          One thing’s for damn sure: Lynn S doesn’t live in Stockholm, Oslo, or other cities in Streamlandia.

    • Visitor

      “all we hear about is how artists aren’t paid enough (no offense, but as a paying Spotify subscriber who also buys albums I like, that really is not my problem)”
      You’re right. Paying customers should be applauded, not blamed in any way. So rest assured: We (artists) absolutely love you, and we’ll do the best we can to produce awesome music for you!
      But that doesn’t change the fact that Spotify is worthless and damaging from an artist’s point of view. Which is why leaving Spotify has become the new black.

      • GGG

        Out of curiosity, I randomly checked some numbers. Carpark Records, the guy up there that says “we don’t make money anyway” has pretty much one artist that’s remotely popular. They have a few niche and/or artists that do well, but one, Beach House, is their only artist that you could say is legitimately midlevel. Based on their streams, they’ve should have made $100K off just their top ten songs alone.
        Not exactly chump change.

  4. discography

    Streaming is a key component of the future revenue pie. It is going through its growing pains while the services mature, and general bias towards majors in the contracts.
    While I own all of Thievery’s albums, most of my listening to them is done through a streaming service and most of my future listening is done through streaming services – it would be sad to see them go.
    Crippling these services isn’t the answer. The majors are sucking up most of the money and leaving indie labels and artists out to dry, and considering the sea of red Spotify is drowning it.. the service itself as well.
    You are just denying the future. Cutting off the streaming pipe isn’t going to make a sizable chunk of that audience go back to buying CD’s. Those days are over. Its gone. The tone deafness of some of the old industry hands is pretty astounding, like Napster never happened.

    • tune Hunter

      You are wrong! Tunes do not belong to streamers, period!
      If you own something you do not treat it this way – unless you are stupid, on drugs or subject to communist nationalization!
      It should not be up to streaming services to please you and your friends for free or almost at someones expense. Wow! such a cool service! well not so cool to musicians and they are the owners, so expect some changes soon.
      Current situation is a result of stupidity, desperation and blindness by the labels. The artists are just sacked in to this bazaar state of music industry!

      • discography

        Its not free you rambling fringe lunatic. You pay a price or you pay with your attention through advertisements. Did you leave the industry, move to a field and put on a tin foil hat in your Airstream in the middle of a field? You clearly aren’t even worthy of dignified debate.

        • Tune Hunter

          Not enough cash! counting both of your sources!
          If you let them go the best they will do world-wide is 200 million paying subscribers @ $7 each. This equals to 17 billion dollars.
          If the get to this point it will be sooo biggg that you will not scrape additional 3 billion from other sources.
          Industry with easy potential for 100 billions / year shrank to 20 by your streaming crackheads!
          Not enough cash my friend you got see big picture.

    • discography

      Have you read the commentors on this board? A lot of thought hasn’t been put into anything period. Its like being thrown into the room with extreme partisans where all reasonable debate has evaporated a long with their IQs. Some of them don’t even understand how these services function yet spend the entire damn day debating them on here. Over and over and over.

      • Tune Hunter

        You sound like a very professional white collar with not much street smarts. You need some common sense and salesmanship and industry can double to 32 billions in 36 months! and guess what – without your streaming.
        Most of the label guys (and probably you too) never had to sale anything. They are just riding on old goodwill and for the moment hoping for great future with streamers.
        THERE IS NO FUTURE WITH STREAMING for labels or artists!
        You can continue with your polite and pleasant comments on greatness of streaming.

  5. Dave

    Serious Question for all against streaming and particularily the freemium offerings of companies like Spotify. Most of the complaints I hear are about compensations to artists and canibilization of other sales models like permanent downloads and physical, but does anyone give any consideration to the number of people out there streaming music they have already bought through another method?

    Example I have hundreds of CD’s and I continue to buy new ones but I also have a Spotify free account and while I do use it to explore new music I find myself most of the time listening to music I already own a physical copy of but am enjoying the convienence of streaming.

    Essentially I am generating additional revenue for the artist and content owner they would otherwise not be receiving if I simple put the CD in the CD player.

    I personally don’t think enough thought has been put into the fact that streaming is generating a lot of revenue from the ad based version for content people have already bought previously.

    • GGG

      Hey Dave, you must be from the same planet as me where we think about things rationally and understand there are numerous reasons people stream beyond “I don’t want to buy this, so I’ll stream it.”

      • Uncle Ron

        Yves is not going to be happy about this. NOT ONE BIT

    • James

      Example I have hundreds of CD’s and I continue to buy new ones but I also have a Spotify free account and while I do use it to explore new music I find myself most of the time listening to music I already own a physical copy of but am enjoying the convienence of streaming.
      If you had a paid Spotify account I could understand this – but do you not find having to listen to all the adverts on your free account far more annoying than simply listening to a ripped copy of your CD? (Also, I believe the audio quality of the free version is significantly lower than Spotify Premium, is it not?)

    • Keith Livingston

      Truthfully I’d never thought about the “already own the recording but stream it too” angle. For a lot of artists, I think that having some, but not all of their music on streaming services makes sense. Why not give the fans who’ve bought downloads and CDs something they can’t get anywhere else?

      On the other hand, for most local, independent artists, making any kind of real money is not likely (see . It’s just good sense for them to focus on other ways of supporting themselves.

  6. Visitor

    Buried lede: HuffPo ambushes indie labels, tries to drum up a story when people say they would not go against the wishes of their artists who couldn’t be convinced not to pull out of Spotify. Not really any meaningful examples of holdouts/pullouts included.

  7. Visitor

    “Hey, let’s f*ck over the streaming industry that the public actually really like & engage with because we deserve more for 20 mins of song writing.”
    1. Spotify is not the only source of royalties.
    2. Of course newer/smaller artists will be paid less, because they are streamed less as they have a much smaller fan base.
    3. Thom Yorke put In Rainbows up for free/pay what you want, because he’s “all for the fans and just want the music out there for people to appreciate.” Now his new projects aren’t as popular as Radiohead and he doesn’t like it so he’s throwing a hypocritical, self-entitled, hissy-fit and blaming streaming services.
    4. Spotify and streaming in general is the biggest growth market for music. Spotify itself is the 3rd highest revenue earner for labels after iTunes and Amazon. 2nd for some. So if more money is being paid out than from Amazon, where is all the money going if not to the artists? The same place it always goes; the labels and the recording companies, who made tiny percentage deals with their artists. They’re the ones shafting the artists, not Spotify.
    5. People who use Spotify aren’t actually buying anything. They can only listen for as long as they pay (or get the advertisers to pay). The music is on loan. If they stop paying, they cannot listen and they posses nothing. Unlike a CD which is a one off payment for an eternity of use. So why should artists get as much for a stream as for a CD?
    Artists like this need to get their head out of their arse, grow up, and try to remember why they supposedly became musicians in the first place.

    • Keith Livingston

      I don’t know any artist who thinks they should get paid as much for a stream as for a CD.