| 19 Jan 2022
Spotify CEO says streaming service has paid over $2 billion in royalties so far

MUMBAI: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has responded to Taylor Swift's criticism of the streaming site for not paying musicians adequate revenue, saying that it has, till date, paid out over $2 billion in royalties. On Tuesday, 11 November, Ek took to a blog post to defend the music streaming site's business strategy.

He wrote, "Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it." Ek went on to state that the notion of how the service was making money on account of artistes has upset him "big time".

From having 10 million paying subscribers and a total of 40 million users earlier this year, Ek revealed that Spotify has grown to 50 million users. Of these 12.5 million are paying subscribers, who pay $120 yearly, to access the service's entire music catalogue. He went on to outline Spotify's aim at building a music economy that works for artistes in a manner in which the music industry never did claiming, "Spotify is the single biggest driver of growth in the music industry, the number one source of increasing revenue, and the first or second biggest source of overall music revenue in many places."

Defending the site's method of working, Ek explained that its free service drives the paid one. "Majority of these paying users are under the age of 27, fans who grew up with piracy and never expected to pay for music. But here's the key fact: more than 80 per cent of our subscribers started as free users. If you take away only one thing, it should be this: No free, no paid, no two billion dollars."

In his very lengthy post, Ek stated, "You can't look at Spotify in isolation – even though Taylor can pull her music off Spotify (where we license and pay for every song we've ever played), her songs are all over services and sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, where people can listen all they want for free. To say nothing of the fans who will just turn back to pirate services like Grooveshark. And sure enough, if you looked at the top spot on The Pirate Bay last week, there was 1989…"

Ek concluded the post by stating that Spotify's interests are aligned with those of the artistes, and that its business is to "maximise the value" of their music. "We use music to get people to pay for music. The more we grow, the more we'll pay you. We're going to be transparent about it all the way through," he added. "We're getting fans to pay for music again. We're connecting artists to fans they would never have otherwise found, and we're paying them for every single listen. We're not just streaming, we're mainstreaming now, and that's good for music makers and music lovers around the world."