Is Spotify Killing Our Music Industry?



With over 10 million users and counting, it’s pretty obvious to most people with a Facebook account that Spotify is hugely popular and it seems that this is a trend that isn’t about to stop any time soon.

Go on any social networking site and you are guaranteed to see people sharing and listening to music via Spotify, but it is it really as good for the music industry as we are led to believe?

With HMV’s shock announcement in January of their threat of going into administration it was clear that the music industry is not what it was 10 years ago. Where chain and independent record stores on the highstreet used to be the only way for people to purchase music, digital downloads now regularly account for over half of all monthly music sales.

Whilst this decline in the sale of physical copies of music has come at a price for record stores, for the music industry as a whole there has been little effect. The constant increase in legal downloads has meant that labels have had to adapt to these new demands, simply making their artists’ music easily accessible through websites such as iTunes and Amazon.

This is where Spotify comes in. In this recession-riddled era where paying the bills is a higher priority than paying for music, Spotify offers a free (and legal) music streaming service seems like the perfect solution.

Marketed as being ‘made possible by ads’, the free service allows you access to their 20 million song catalogue whilst the adverts you hear after every three or four tracks are what pays for the music, thus making the service legal.

Unfortunately, things aren’t quite as perfect as we have been led to believe. Whilst Spotify does pay for the music it streams, most of the payout goes directly to the label who can receive up to 18% of shares from the ‘legal’ online streaming. However, this comes at a price for the artists and songwriters who see little to none of this profit, leaving many increasingly frustrated by the lack of money they are receiving.

In 2010 Lady Gaga claimed that for over 1 million plays of her song ‘Poker Face’ on Spotify she received a cheque for a tiny $167. It is seemingly for this reason many musicians such as The Beatles, John Lennon and Oasis have chosen to have their music removed from Spotify, an action copied by many contemporary high profile artists such as Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Blink 182.

Rather than encouraging people to invest in the music industry and support the artists they love, Spotify instead seems to be providing a guilt free haven where people can rip off musicians and not have to worry about the repercussions.

While this type of legal streaming is clearly a welcomed alternative to music piracy, although several artists have expressed the opinion they would rather their music be stolen than listened to on Spotify, it is the belief of many musicians that more should be done to make users aware of the exploitation that is occurring.

In an age that is becoming more and more technologically advanced the demand to keep up with this ever changing world is greater than ever. Whilst Spotify isn’t exclusively responsible for any demise in the music industry, many feel that it is slowly chipping away at it, subtly blurring the lines between piracy and legality and barely acknowledging those who have slaved over the creation of the music.

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