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Spotify Executive Calls Artist ‘Entitled’ for Requesting Payment of One Penny Per Stream

Paul Resnikoff June 29, 202166

Should Spotify pay one penny per stream? Singer-songwriter and artist advocate Ashley Jana

Singer-songwriter and artist advocate Ashley Jana thinks so

Ashley Jana is like a lot of independent artists struggling to make money from streaming platforms. She has a few million streams on Spotify, but draws very little from those plays thanks to an extremely low per-stream royalty rate. While Apple Music recently upped its per-stream royalty payout to one penny per stream, Spotify’s per-stream rate remains a fraction of that. At last count, Spotify’s per-stream payouts were hovering between $0.003 and $0.005, which is — at best — one-half of what Apple pays, but usually far lower according to our data.

So why isn’t Spotify paying more? Ashley Jana presented that question to Jim Anderson, who is credited with architecting (and even ‘inventing’) the Spotify platform, at a music industry conference in New York. Anderson was a keynote interview at the SyncSummit New York, where he was lauded as “the man who built out the system architecture of Spotify.” But that build-out didn’t seem to include much consideration for artist payments — which Anderson made exceedingly clear.

“The problem was to distribute music. Not to give you money, okay?”

At the end of the interview, Ashley Jana bluntly asked Anderson why Spotify doesn’t pay more, specifically suggesting a rate of one penny per stream. She also recorded the conversation. Incidentally, this all went down in 2019, though Jana said she held onto the recording for more than a year because she feared industry retribution.

In response to the question, Anderson repeatedly berated Jana for being ‘entitled,’ while explaining that Spotify has no obligation to solve the issue of artist compensation.

“Do you guys want to talk about entitlement now?” Anderson asked the audience and moderator after repeatedly using ‘entitlement’ to characterize the question presented by Jana. Then, Anderson declared that Spotify was never created to make artists money — while criticizing demands for exactly that.

“I think Taylor Swift doesn’t need .00001 more a stream,” Anderson stated, referring to public demands by Swift for better Spotify compensation for artists.

The problem is this: Spotify was created to solve a problem. The problem was this: piracy and music distribution. The problem was to get artists’ music out there. The problem was not to pay people money.”

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