Poor payments at Spotify drives Swift exit

Taylor Swift, one of Spotify’s most-played artists, has quit the subscription-model music streaming platform in protest over poor royalties, delayed payments and a lack of transparency.

Daniel Ek, the company’s CEO, said on Tuesday that Spotify has paid out $2 billion in revenues to musicians, and that Swift’s popularity had put her on track to earn around $6m this year. This claim was contradicted by Scott Borchetta, CEO of Swift’s record label, who said that she had been paid just $496,044 by Spotify over the past 12 months – and earned more from putting her music videos on Vevo.

The accusations will no doubt come as a blow to Spotify. Despite having 50m users, including 12.5m paid subscribers, the company has  struggled to earn enough from subscription fees or advertising to break even, with many artists complaining about the paltry $0.0084 that they receive per play. Spotify representatives have said that this will improve as the subscriber base grows – something that will be increasingly hard to achieve if its biggest band names start jumping ship.

In his blog post, Ek promised to improve the way that artists are paid, saying: “if that [$2 billion] is not flowing to the creative community in a timely and transparent way, that’s a big problem. We will do anything we can to work with the industry to increase transparency, improve speed of payments, and give artists the opportunity to promote themselves and connect with fans – that’s our responsibility as a leader in this industry; and it’s the right thing to do.”

However, the assurances do not seem to have impressed Borchetta. “The facts show that the music industry was much better off before Spotify hit these shores,” he said. “Don’t forget this is for the most successful artist in music today. What about the rest of the artists out there struggling to make a career? Over the last year, what Spotify has paid is the equivalent of less than 50,000 albums sold.”

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