updated 06:37 pm EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
'small meaningless rebellion' against streaming music protests royalty payments
Radiohead lead Thom Yorke has pulled all of his solo music from the Spotify streaming music service. In a Twitter exchange with producer Nigel Godrich, Yorke tweeted that he was starting a "small meaningless rebellion" in yanking his music from the service, trying to highlight the lack of pay artists small and large are seeing from streaming music.
"The reason is that new artists get paid f*** all with this model. It's an equation that just doesn't work," Godrich wrote on Twitter. "Meanwhile small labels and new artists can't even keep their lights on. It's just not right."
He added that subscribers to Spotify should "make no mistake -- new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid, meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simple." Yorke is somewhat mistaken in that Spotify is currently a private company, and has no shareholders, though his larger point of poor artist compensation has been echoed by others.
Spotify disagrees with Yorke. In a statement responding to the Twitter exchange, the service said that it is currently "still in the early stages of a long-term project that's already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We've already paid $500M to rightsholders so far, and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US$1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music. We're 100 percent committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible, and are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers."
Spotify claimed in March of 2012 that 70 percent of its revenues are paid out in royalties and the per-stream rate doubled between the start of the service and currently. Charles Caldas, CEO of the Merlin Network for independent artists, argues that the problem isn't Spotify's failure to pay out a fair rate, but that the royalties are paid to the record labels -- who then pass too little of it on to artists responsible for generating the music.