Spotify CEO Daniel Ek says it’s “not enough” to release music every 3-4 years, musicians respond

David Crosby and R.E.M.’s Mike Mills both gave strongly-worded rebuttals to Ek’s comments.

Daniel Ek

Image: Mike Coppola / Getty

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has spoken about criticism of the streaming service’s royalty payouts, saying that artists who aren’t doing well from them are failing to adapt to the new landscape of the music industry.

In an interview with Music Ally, Ek made reference to the common reporting that surrounds streaming payouts: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single artist saying ‘I’m happy with all the money I’m getting from streaming … But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.”

He elaborates: “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.”

Clarifying his position further, he said: “I feel, really, that the ones that aren’t doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released.”

Daniel Ek’s net worth has been reported, as of July 2020, to be $4.1 Billion. Reporting by Soundcharts places the average amount paid per stream via Spotify at around $0.00318. With that in mind, if Ek had made his net worth via Spotify, he would have a total of almost 1.3 trillion streams on his music. Condensed into a single song, that would mean over a trillion more streams than the current most-streamed release on the platform, Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You.

If Ek wanted to set his sights a little lower to, say, earn a year’s minimum wage in the UK, he would still need 4,955,973 streams, according to a recent study by Broadband Choices.

But, partially because Daniel Ek is not a musician, those who do release music on his platform have expressed frustration with his comments. Many musicians criticised Ek’s economic view of music for undermining the work that goes into creating it.

David Crosby called Ek “an obnoxious greedy little shit,” while R.E.M. bassist and songwriter Mike Mills said “Music = product, and must be churned out regularly, says billionaire Daniel Ek.” He added, succinctly, “go fuck yourself.”

Embrace singer Danny McNamara said: “The contempt with which this man and all like him hold artists is beyond parody. He either doesn’t realise how bad he sounds or doesn’t care.”

Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley said simply: “How dare this c**t tell us how to make our music!”

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