Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has published a blog post responding to the last week’s controversy surrounding Taylor Swift’s decision to pull her back catalogue from the streaming service.
“Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it. So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time. Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work,” wrote Ek.
“Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny – nothing, zilch, zero. Spotify has paid more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists. A billion dollars from the time we started Spotify in 2008 to last year and another billion dollars since then.”
Ek also formally announced that Spotify now has 50m active users and 12.5m paying subscribers, and defended the company’s blend of free and premium tiers, saying that the former is an essential stepping stone to the latter – after public pressure to change its policy of refusing to window albums between its free and paid tiers.
“Our free service drives our paid service. Today we have more than 50 million active users of whom 12.5 million are subscribers each paying $120 per year. That’s three times more than the average paying music consumer spent in the past. What’s more, the majority of these paying users are under the age of 27, fans who grew up with piracy and never expected to pay for music,” wrote Ek.
“But here’s the key fact: more than 80% of our subscribers started as free users. If you take away only one thing, it should be this: No free, no paid, no two billion dollars.”