Musicians criticise Spotify CEO for saying it’s “not enough” to release albums “every 3-4 years”

Daniel Ek recently said musicians might find they "can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough"

Musicians have criticised Spotify CEO Daniel Ek for his recent comments on the rate of album releases.

In an interview published last week (July 31), Ek said it “wasn’t enough” for artists to “record music once every three to four years”.

Since his comments were published, a number of musicians have criticised him for not understanding or overlooking the work that goes into making music and how that can’t be forced.

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“‘Music = product and must be churned out regularly,’ says billionaire Daniel Ek,” commented R.E.M.’s Mike Mills. “Go fuck yourself.” However, the musician said a boycott of the platform would only hurt artists more. When a fan suggested that music fans stay off of the service in response, Mills replied: “Boycotting Spotify won’t help the musicians on there.”

 

Nadine Shah and Jack Garratt called out Ek’s controversial comments for encouraging exploitation of artists. “Im tired of having to kiss the arses of these companies that exploit me and other music makers,” wrote Shah. “We need the whole music community (including fans) to come together and demand change.”

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Responding to her tweet, Garratt added: “So many companies within the music industry farm the mental health of its artists and then get defensive when we try to repair ourselves or ask for appropriate pay. It is so broken.”

 

He continued: “You just cannot demand so much of artists and work them to exhaustion and then also tell they aren’t outputting enough music to suit your business model. I took all the time I needed to make my second album. I’ll do it again and again if I need to.”

Garratt also pointed out that the “continuous engagement with fans” Ek had pointed to as a successful tact of artists releasing music more frequently didn’t necessarily correlate with streaming numbers. “Me having x amount of followers doesn’t translate to that many streams or views,” he said. “This is basic.”

 

Zola Jesus added that Ek’s business strategy did not align with an effective way of producing good music. “It is extremely clear that @Spotify’s billionaire Daniel Ek has never made music or art of any kind for that matter,” she wrote. “He refuses to understand there’s a difference between commodities and art. The potential for culture growth will suffer because of it.”

 

Neko Case responded to Zola Jesus’ tweet saying it was “so fucking basic; HE keeps our royalties”.

See more responses from artists below.

In the original interview, Ek had said there was a “narrative fallacy” about the idea that Spotify doesn’t pay enough for artists to live on.

“It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans,” 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.”

In April, PRS director Tom Gray shared data collected by The Trichordist showing how many streams artists need to earn minimum wage on each streaming platform. Musicians promoting their music on Spotify would need 3,114 plays to earn one hour of UK Minimum Wage (£8.72). Only Pandora and YouTube would require more streams to make the same amount.

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