The Spotify Debate – A New Artist Weighs In

The Spotify debate erupted again yesterday, fired by Nigel Godrich’s announcement on Twitter that Atoms For Peace would remove their music from the streaming service.

Godrich posted a number of messages concerning the removal of Atoms For Peace’s album ‘Amok’, ‘The Eraser’ and Ultraísta’s debut from Spotify, explaining that he believes the system is run by the “same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold”. “The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work,” Godrich wrote.

The music industry is being taken over by the back door and if we don’t try and make it fair for new music producers and artists then the art will suffer. Make no mistake. These are all the same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold on the delivery system. Plus people are scared to speak up or not take part as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don’t play ball. Meanwhile millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all

Thom Yorke retweeted many of Godrich’s statements, adding:


Other artists who’ve spoken up against Spotify since its inception in 2006 include Jon Hopkins, Four Tet, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, Mike Vennart of Biffy Clyro.

In response to Godrich and Yorke’s comments, Spotify told NME:

Right now we’re still in the early stages of a long-term project that’s already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We’ve already paid $500m to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach $1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music. We’re 100% committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible, and are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers


We wanted to find out what it’s like for a new band trying to carve a career in today’s world of streaming so we asked Matt from Hookworms, and a record producer, where he stands on the Spotify debate. Read his full piece below.

My issue with Spotify is not with the mode of delivery but the repercussions of the normalisation of a low cost in return for such great access. Never mind that it’s not even a sustainable business model on that scale.

I can only write from personal experience, but in the last quarter of a year I made £42 for over 100,000 Spotify plays. Sure, you could argue that maybe none of those listeners were ever going to buy our record anyway, but what if we were to continue down this route to a point where all music is consumed in this fashion?


I would say that (disregarding costs of physical copies) a record on a mid level indie probably costs on average around £5,000 to make. Sometimes a lot more, sometimes a lot less; but it’s a lot of money whatever for a band or label to stump up without any guarantee of making it back. Why are people going to bother, even if they can afford that in the first place? Great records are not going to get made when they deserve to be.

It’s also a common narrative in the media to discuss a current lack of ‘classic’ bands and instead a predominance of those with incredibly short careers. Is this not a result of labels looking for a quick return, rather than a balanced investment in artists that may take more than a couple of records to achieve their potential? And is this not a result of the way music is currently being consumed?

I’d be the first to agree that the old industry model is flawed, but no more so than this new one. We need to look to different approaches such as, where you are able to subscribe on a much smaller scale to a record label like Domino or Captured Tracks. This way, many of the middle men employed in the music industry aren’t taking such a cut and both the labels and artists benefit.

Art is intrinsic to a thoughtful and culturally functioning society and if we continue to ignore the repercussions of such a passive attitude to the way we consume music then we’re all going to suffer

What do you think?