A Reporter Asks a Spotify Exec: ‘Do You Treat Artists Fairly’?

Spotify Executive: Streaming Services Don't Pay Artists Correctly
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Spotify Executive: Streaming Services Don't Pay Artists Correctly
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Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services Troy Carter (middle)

A Spotify executive admits that artist aren’t getting fairly paid.  But the ‘value chain’ is to blame, not Spotify.

An exclusive report published here showed that no — despite what the company says — Spotify doesn’t pay artists fairly.  In fact, in the past couple of years, the Swedish streamer has actually reduced payouts for artists.  Now, an executive for the company basically told journalists, “no, it’s not our fault.”

During a keynote Q&A at Nashville’s Music Biz Convention, Troy Carter blamed poor artist payouts on a broken “value chain.”  Music Week had asked the Global Head of Creator Services if the current payout system was fair for artists.  Carter, the former manager of Lady Gaga and Meghan Trainor, said,

“I would say no, but I would also say the value chain’s broken.  And I think what needs to happen is we need to reconfigure the entire value chain.”

Shifting blame away from Spotify, Carter said that the “broken value chain” applies to all streaming services.

So, which artists receive a fair amount?  Only those with hit songs, admitted Carter.  The old albums model, he explained, had songwriters receiving the same amount for hit songs as those who wrote its worst songs.  Streaming, however, has changed things.

Is it also fair that if Max Martin wrote the hit on a record, that the person who wrote the worst song on the record is under the same rate as Max, essentially?

“The hit songs really, really matter and you’ve got every single producer and writer on the album trying to make that hit.  But… it’s really about rethinking the value chain.

Pushing his own company forward, Carter said that Spotify stands out among the crowd.  In fact, Spotify has a model that has proven sound and successful for artists.  Yet, as the company continues bleeding money, Carter remained noticeably silent on how the company plans to become profitable.

What I love about Spotify is that it’s a very honest platform.  We play a game called best song wins.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the biggest artist in the world or an act that was on Soundcloud and finally went to Tunecore and uploaded on Spotify, then the listeners don’t lie.

Among streaming services, said Carter, Spotify provides artists a unique platform tailored specifically for them.  Despite numbers showing the contrary, Carter said,

This isn’t call-out radio research or anything like that — this is actual people leaning into records, and you’re finding out whether things are fake or real really quick.  And I think creators and artists having access to that sort of platform is powerful and I think we’re already seeing that the entire business is going to be reshaped.

Image by TechCrunch (CC by 2.0)

10 Responses

  1. Pathetic DMN

    This article is fake news built on top of fake news.
    Spotify pays more and more money every year.

    Per stream payments are a fucking retarded way of looking at payments because it penalizes the services that are actually good at making people listen to music.

  2. Asbury

    Is the “exclusive report” the article Daniel wrote himself last week that didn’t make any sense and I suspect he didn’t fully understand? How much money does DMN think is fair for Spotify to pay out of their revenue? 70%, 80%? They are distributing the music to listeners and cutting out multiple steps in the supply chain but they aren’t allowed to make money? On the one hand you don’t like Spotify because they don’t pay artists enough and the other you don’t like them because they don’t make money. Yet, streaming isn’t going anywhere and is replacing album sales, like it or not. How do you propose changes get made so artists are paid more? Maybe there is an area between what Spotify pays and the artists collect that needs adjusting? Just a thought.

  3. Curious

    Paul/Daniel, can you explain the clear anti-Spotify bias of DMN? Is it a hatred of all streaming services of which Spotify just happens to be the biggest and most successful or is it something (or someone) about Spotify specifically that you hate? Maybe you don’t even realize how blatantly obvious your feelings towards the company are, but you take every opportunity to spin news about Spotify as bad news, numbers released as bad numbers, and delays to the IPO as signs of the company’s imminent demise. It’s like like watching Fox News for an objective opinion on Hillary Clinton or MSNBC on Trump. We get it…you hate Spotify, but why??

  4. Will Buckley

    Hardly news. Ek’s been trying to blame the entire problem on the labels for years. There is truth in the fact the labels take a disproportionate amount of pay outs.

    But if you were to double or triple the payments to artists it’s still chump change.

    Plus Spotify can’t make money. Their business model is a total debt swap fraud. While they destroy the music business they only have an exit strategy, nothing more.

    • Anonymous

      And piracy was better? Let’s go back to the days when artists got paid zero?

      • DMV HOMIE

        Anonymous,you got Jokes either that or your Nuts,us artist are gonna get paid one way or another,the people need our food(songs) Peace!!

      • DMV HOMIE

        you got Jokes either that or your Nuts,us artist are gonna get paid one way or another,the people need our food(songs) Peace!!

  5. Nameit

    ” Troy Carter blamed poor artist payouts on a broken “value chain”.

    Does it mean only popular artists should be present on Spotify so platform can earn money and in return pay the artists?

  6. Coy Tarter

    I wonder how Miles Davis, Mozart, or other niche musicians would feel when they found out they have the “worst songs” because they don’t have mass appeal “hit songs” as suggested by Carter? Just sayin’.