Realizing that Taylor Swift really was gone, and that the jokey missive he sent out after she pulled her music from the streaming service last week had fallen on deaf ears, Spotify founder Daniel Ek is now trying to reason with Swift—and all other musicians attempting to resist the inevitability of Spotify’s New World Order. “Our interests are totally aligned with yours,” Ek says to artists. “The more we grow, the more we’ll pay you.”
Ek’s statement shifts the responsibility for artists not getting paid from Spotify’s royalties, which, according to its website, recently increased from $0.005 a song to between $0.006 and $0.0084 a song, with royalties from songs streamed by premium users paid out at an unspecified higher rate. Instead, he blames those cigar-chomping fatcats in the music business, saying, “If that money is not flowing to the creative community in a timely and transparent way, that’s a big problem,” presumably tapping the side of his nose as he spoke.
However, Eck’s main point is that at least Spotify pays musicians, unlike YouTube, which somewhere along the line went from disabling the accounts of users who posted copyrighted songs to allowing albums to be uploaded in their entirety, or The Pirate Bay, which, to be fair, makes its intentions clear right there in the name.
It’s a legitimate, if problematic, point. On the one hand, Spotify is trying, in its way, to fight piracy, and with free music so easily accessible it’s going to take a very soft sell to get people paying again. On the other, Eck’s argument is reminiscent of that against raising the minimum wage, which is hey, sorry you can’t feed your family or whatever, but getting paid even a tiny amount is better than nothing at all…right? That concern, of course, does not apply to Taylor Swift, who could feed a whole bunch of families if she felt like it.