Spotify’s Tip Jar Isn’t Moving the Needle Much for Artists

Spotify tip jar
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Spotify tip jar
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Photo Credit: Sam Dan Truong

The Spotify tip jar for COVID-19 is now live – but artists don’t seem to be reaping many benefits.

Back in April, Spotify launched a feature called Artist Fundraising Pick, allowing artists to collect tips. Spotify says the move is to “provide the global reach of Spotify to artists who are fundraising during this challenging time.” But the feature is confusing for many, and many artists are reporting lackluster results.

The tip jar is part of a broader charitable initiative on Spotify’s part to donate $10 million to partner organizations. Spotify says it will match outside donations to those organizations dollar-for-dollar. Of course, $10 million is $10 million, but it’s a mere fraction of Spotify’s $2 billion in revenue. All this from a platform that pays its artists not even a full penny per stream. (Spotify actively fought against raising songwriter royalties – alongside Google, Pandora, and Amazon.)

Many musicians on the platform see the Spotify tip jar as an admission that the service doesn’t pay enough. A recent report from VICE saw 13 independent artists sharing their comments on how the service is working for them.

Dave Benton of Trace Mountains says the feature just isn’t worth promoting. “I’m not very inclined to tell my supporters to go there because I’d rather direct them to my website or Bandcamp page,” he told VICE. He says he has more control over the interaction and can speak with them directly.

Many artists share the same sentiment, saying they don’t feel comfortable promoting it to fans. Others who use it say it works, and they’ve generated “about $30.” Many artists described the feature as generating “sporadic donations” at best.

“It’s not anything we can rely on, the way a higher percentage of streaming revenue could be,” says another artist about the Spotify tip jar.

Despite the poor performance, many artists agree that a tipping feature is needed. But it seems the confusion around tipping to support artists and tipping to support COVID-19 relief charities is real. In the VICE canvas, some artists expressed concern about asking fans for more money on a platform they may already pay to use.

“I think the function would work a lot better if it were more explicitly a ‘tip the artist’ button. Instead, it’s labeled as COVID-19 Support, which could be anything,” another artist says. “Unfortunately, I think the button is designed poorly and fails to communicate its purpose to fans.”

5 Responses

  1. Johnny

    Mr. Ek came from a Torrent background. One of the people responsible for letting people steal music for so many years thinking that the artists were fine with this. How do you stay in business when people all steal your work? All that is left is ‘advertising revenues’ and he has made himself rich at the expense of the musical community who now struggle to pay their bills. And now the ‘tip jar’ to help all the poor musicians, many of whom have had to sell their homes, and had to go get a ‘day job’ to help feed their families. This guy should be in JAIL! And shame on the Government who have done nothing since Napster to stop stolen music become free music without consulting with the very people who provide this music, usually with many expenses involved. Shame on Spotify and all the many sites who think that musicians don’t deserve ONE PENNY for their labors

  2. 8

    tip jars are a joke. no one tips. if someone is getting it for free, why pay anything, even a dollar. and every artist on every platform has a tip jar, patreon, gofundme, superchat etc. people are tapped out.

    the solution is simply higher royalty rates.

    they are made by the co. to generate multi million in publicity. even Spotify’s 10 million ‘charity’ got them thousands of stories in the press (millions of dollars of free publicity.)

  3. Eilo

    Ek Schmek…Spotify doesn’t have a creative bone in their body. Matching contributions is BS unless your speaking of a food banks or medically challenged cause initiatives. The Ek brainpower consists of scamming wallstreet to invest in a slumlord management style. There’s no growth potential for shareholders if 90% of artists can’t even make a go of it. Apple has the right approach AND pays artists FAIRLY.

  4. Tom Hendricks

    The penny for play anywhere online will end subscription services, their greed, and the money will go to the content provider. Sad that the media is afraid to talk about new ideas or progressive ideas in music.

  5. xi

    this is so correct, this should have been exploited YEAR AGO as a feature which would have made artists like spotify more than other DSPs. instead they squandered the opp. if i was ceo of any of these streaming companies they would be innovating like motherfuckers. silicon valley is full of simp sjw morons who stand around water coolers jerking off and talking about the 400,000 genders all day long. there has been no progress in tech since steve jobs died and everyone became a fucking total soft simple pussy-human fluff hybrid overpaid piece of shit.