Making Dollars: Clearing Up Spotify Payment Confusion

From Hypebot:

By David Macias, president of Nashville based label services company Thirty Tigers.

Much of the recent discourse about the music business reminds me of listening to partisan political commentators talk about America. There are a lot of conspiracy theories and misguided notions that perpetuate the worst stereotypes about a group of people. I am writing to defend the honor of Spotify and the music business, or at least some of it, by looking at the facts about what Spotify pays the owners of recordings.

First of all, let me tell you that I run a company that distributes and markets albums, mostly for artists that have not signed deals with record companies, but own their own masters. We collect money for them and distribute it out to them (in addition to providing other services). So I actually know what artists get paid. I’m the one that writes their checks.

A recent article in Pitchfork by Damon Krukowski claims that indie artists gets paid .005 cents per stream, then goes on to show his math: $29.80 paid for 5,960 streams. That’s .005 DOLLARS, not .005 cents. That’s off by a multiple of 100. Many acts, such as Grizzly Bear, took that incorrect math and tweeted to their fan base with extrapolated, incorrect assumptions about what artists get paid, and I watched scads of people retweet that misinformation, with the inference that Spotify and/or other elements in the music industry are not dealing with artists fairly.

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