Spotify CEO Daniel EK Thinks Bands Get Paid Enough, Pushes Back On Royalty Debate

It is not bad enough bands barely get paid despite thousands of streams per month. Now the CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, says that bands make enough and need to release music more frequently, rather than expect a real living wage from streaming. This is unsurprising that Ek doesn’t value artists or artistry, since he used to be connected o both Utorrent and Bit Torrent and got the idea for Spotify when Napster went out of business. He was a huge fan. Spotify’s average stream pays about $0.006. To earn just above the U.S. poverty line, which is $12,000, an artist would need three million streams (not factoring in payouts to label or management). Other factors for the cut the bands get includes individual record deals and agreements some labels have with Spotify. In a podcast interview with Music Ally, Ek said he would push back on the conversation and instead say the artist needs to reassess their marketing and creative output. 

“It’s quite interesting that while the overall pie is growing, and more and more people can partake in that pie, we tend to focus on a very limited set of artists,” he said, referring to the reporting of views on streaming royalties.


“Even today on our marketplace, there’s literally millions and millions of artists. What tends to be reported are the people that are unhappy, but we very rarely see anyone who’s talking about… In the entire existence [of Spotify] I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single artist saying ‘I’m happy with all the money I’m getting from streaming,”.


“Stating that publicly. In private they have done that many times, but in public they have no incentive to do it. But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.”


“There is a narrative fallacy here, combined with the fact that, obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough,” said Ek


“The artists today that are making it realise that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.”


Earlier in the interview, Ek pointed out that previously the top 10% of streaming came from 30,000 artists, and now it’s up to 43,000 artists, showing how many more artists are benefiting from the platform.

In a recent earnings report, Spotify revealed they generated revenues of 1.89bn in Q2, up by 13% from Q2 2019, reporting an operating loss of €167m and a net loss of €356m for the quarter. The site has also seen a tremendous boost from their investment into podcasts, now boasting 300 million daily active users.That is more than some of the top social media sites and 10 times the traffic of most 


Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley weighed in on the quote saying “Sure, on one hand Spotify is vampiric and exploitative of naive talent. but on the other hand, $.17 split 5 ways every six months is income I never would have earned had I not sacrificed years of my life to making the music found there. so who’s to say, really.”