“I’d rather be raped by Pirate Bay than by Hasse Breitholtz and Sony Music”, says Swedish artist and composer Magnus Uggla, the latest musician to check his digital statement and muse over the whereabouts of the millions he imagines Spotify must be generating. According to Uggla, when he checked his earnings from Spotify, he realised that he had “earned as much in six months as a busker could earn in a day.” (Actually, judging by some of the digital statements we’ve seen, Uggla should be glad to have received quite that much from a streaming service!) But the icing on the cake for Uggla came when he read that Sony managed to pick up a 5.8% stake in Spotify for an investment of 30,000 kroner (USD $4,000).
His complaint revolves around the suggestion that labels now own a share of something valued far more highly than their original investment (Spotify’s worth is now estimated at 1.8 billion kroner or USD $251 million) while the artists” royalty income continues to be negligible. Uggla “will remove all of my songs from Spotify pending an honest service”, he says. The problem for artists like Uggla is that, as digital music services go, Spotify is relatively honest. Unlike The Pirate Bay it has no desire to distribute songs or recordings without permission. But even if Spotify manages to rake in the kind of paid subscription income that Rhapsody and eMusic brings in, the fees from each Spotify stream will still look far smaller than the per-track income Uggla gets from iTunes. And unless artists are cut in on Spotify ownership, they will certainly lose out on the big win – which will come when Spotify ships out and sells up to a Google, AOL or Microsoft.