The hype is to be on Spotify since it’s a great idea that appeals to many artists, including me. What better way to battle piracy than to offer it free with advertisement funding (like a modern radio station where you just select the playlist) or through premium subscriptions? This is how the industry should have approached the digital world instead of Digital Rights Management (DRM.) What I feel Spotify has failed miserably with is how independent artists are treated.
So why have Spotify failed to accommodate the indie artist? Well, it’s a modern and entirely digital service so why can’t they offer independent artists a simple control panel with the ability to upload and manage their music for free? Why do we have to go through aggregators, and pay what to most of us is an uncomfortable sum of money, to reach a this purely digital streaming service? I can only guess that Spotify’s focus is elsewhere, and that focus is the big named artists and their record labels. I fear that the record labels have an incredible influence over Spotify and this is how the food chain works. The big labels need to ensure that they are still needed in the digital world so they can make their money along with the aggregators. The loser in this battle is the independent artists that in many cases spend more money to make their music available on Spotify and digital stores than what they will ever make on sales or royalties. This model is an attempt to clutch on to the old physical method to distribute music but it is an ancient one and I can only hope that it’ll change in the future.
Unfortunately there is very little insight to what happens behind the curtain at Spotify. It all seams to be “hush hush” regarding how much of the subscription fee and adverts is distributed to the artists. A rumor that I heard a few months back was that half the advert fees go to artists and half the other half plus all subscription fees are pocketed by Spotify.
Again, they fail to apply the KISS model (Keep It Simple Stupid). Here we have a streaming service with foolproof statistics of the exact number of plays every track gets. Why not officially say “We keep X% of the money (since we are a business) and we distribute the remaining Y% to all the artists based on the exact percentage of plays your track(s) have?”
My guess is that a selection of high end record labels are huge share owners of Spotify and they don’t want it to work that way. Better to only spread a small percentage of the income to the artists and keep a large sum (much larger than justified for maintaining the service and making a profit.) By keeping this large sum and not distributing it among all the artists, including the independent ones, the labels can pocket the money through their shares instead.
I’d like to stress that this is what I personally think is going on and I don’t have any facts to back it up. I suspect that this is the only way major record labels would ever agree to having their music being released on Spotify in the first place.
So Spotify: At least make it simpler and cheaper for us independent artists to provide you with music that you can make money from.