The latest artist taking potshots at Spotify is Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis, with the perhaps ill-advised approach of comparing his quite-successful-really band to penniless waiters. “I’d rather somebody stole the record on vinyl than bought it or streamed it on Spotify. Because I think you should listen to music on vinyl, and I think basically anything’s better than that,” he told Channel 4 News.
“It’s like going to a restaurant when the chef and all the waiting staff have worked their asses off, and you leave coppers as a tip, and you don’t even pay the bill. That’s basically what Spotify’s like, I think.” Foals’ albums remain on Spotify, whose public stats show 22.3m plays of last album Holy Fire’s nine most popular tracks, hinting at gross payouts of anywhere between $111.4k and $334.3k depending on the split between free and premium plays.
For a more balanced perspective, read Keane co-founder Tim Rice-Oxley’s interview with Music Week. “When we started out we’d get these enormous royalty cheques like: ‘That’s amazing! I can buy a house!’ But now it’s much more like ‘£300 from this quarter on Spotify’ – it’s very different,” he says, before expressing a view more often heard from technologists than from artists: “It’s a shame, of course, that the various [streaming] outlets do not pay a better royalty for music, but the truth is it’s just like any other industry that has changed and been superseded by new technology from the industrial revolution onwards,” says Rice-Oxley.
“There isn’t some God-given right to make millions from playing a guitar, it’s just lucky that there’s been a supply-and-demand thing for 50 years and now the supply is changing. The demand is still there, but you don’t have a right to get paid for every song you create. I value music very highly and come from a generation that’s used to paying £15 for an album, which seems like a fair price – £1 a song. But it’s a random amount in the first place. This generation is getting used to paying 70p for a song, or nothing. It’s a terrible shame, but it’s technology moving forward, as it does in every business. You can’t stop it.”