Spotify's new royalty payment update hurts indie musicians even more than before

Originally published at: Spotify's new royalty payment update hurts indie musicians even more than before | Boing Boing


To be clear, this is nothing new- ASCAP has been screwing smaller artists in favor of bigger ones since forever.

It’s just super aggravating that having a system in which you can measure exact numbers of plays intentionally repeats the same shittiness as imperfect surveys.


shocked philip j fry GIF


Both are run by record companies and they make their profits by literally stealing from artists.


There are other streaming services out there. Tidal and Qubuz for instance. Escape the rabid podcast delivering Spotify.

I’m one of those old fossils who makes your sound guy haul a box of CDs to each show, just because one of us might show up. And yes, you should bring some older discs with you, because if I like the few songs I hear during your set, I’ll try to buy your entire catalog while I’m there.

I don’t subscribe to streaming music services, and I’m not sorry I’m not giving you one-hundredth of a penny. But a concert in the park, and you don’t suck? Hell yeah, you get my folding money.


Done! I like it!


I’m pretty sure this is blatantly illegal in the U.S., with respect to mechanical (reproduction) royalties for the written composition (i.e. for the songwriter). Unless Spotify plans to rewrite U.S. law, which I suppose they could probably manage.

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Who has standing and money to sue? Record companies! Who own Spotify? Record companies.


That’s why it’s better to buy music, either physical copies or digital files. Streaming means the artist gets nothing, and the record companies can delete them for fun.


After having my music on streaming services for over five years, I made my first 25.00 from plays this year. It was nice while it lasted, I guess?


Is there a website/plugin that makes playlists of sub-1000 play spotify tunes?

I’d toss that on all day.

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I wonder how many people are gearing up to offer “a thousand plays of your tracks on Spotify for only five bucks!”.

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It’s really not as bad as some are making out. 1000 streams makes you around $4 and unless you are truly independent and do everything yourself including handling the whole process of having your music on the streaming services then the royalties are going to whichever companies managed this for you and $4 is well below their minimum payout amount. If Spotify aren’t paying out on all these sub $4 amounts that artists never see it creates a healthy amount that can be distributed to artists who are meeting minimum payout amounts which is better than it sitting in the accounts of the record companies and management companies of these sub 1k artists. TBH 1k is probably too low as it is still below most of these companies minimum of payouts to artists, it would probably be better around 5k to allow an even greater boost and limit companies sitting on these ‘zombie’ payouts

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I read a great article by the incomparable Van Dyke Parks where he described how he and Ringo Starr were collaborating on a track. When Parks did the math, he calculated that they would split about $80 in royalties if it got 100k streams (which is already pretty pathetic — he’s working with a Beatle, FFS). Then when doing the actual math later, he realized that was an optimistic calculation and it’d be far less than that. At the time, Spotify paid out .00065¢ per play.

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gaslight GIF by The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper

the music industry has always been deeply exploitative of musicians. Always. Streaming exacerbated that dynamic.

Seth Meyers Idk GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

but yeah… “it’s not that bad”… give me a fucking break.

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Everything you typed after this is meaningless. If I earn $4 from 1000 streams, then Spotify I earned $4. If I release a 5 song EP and each song gets roughly 1000 streams, that’s $20 that I rightly earned. You can argue that it’s “below their minimum payout amount,” but c’mon, I have actor friends who’ve received get royalty checks for less money than the cost of postage. If the company wants to set a minimum amount for payout — just to arguably make it worth the hassle for them to have a person do the labor of writing out the checks — then maybe I’d buy that argument. But that’s not what’s going on here. That’s Spotify saying, “Oh, well, there’s 25 million songs on here that only deserve around $4 each. That’s $100,000,000 in additional revenue that we could take from the working class and redistribute to wealthy executives and pop stars!”

If you do want to get into the nitty-gritty of deposits and distribution though: I use DistroKid for all my music. I pay them an annual fee, plus extras per song for some a la carte features. The last time I cashed out from them, they owed me $639 “minus fees.” Those fees amounted to … $1.07. Now, I don’t know how they calculate those fees. And that’s also for several years worth of music (yay?). If I wanted to pay DistroKid $20/year to host my music, and then cash out every time I made $4, minus fees? I should be damn well within my rights to do that.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that the miniscule payments that are not being paid out to musicians under this new system, are instead being distributed out to musicians who are meeting the 1000-play threshold. It’s not being retained by Spotify.

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