Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s recent “Fireside Chat” at SXSW discussed his focus on long-term growth, including a nearly theatrical vision for one billion users. However, when asked plainly about artist compensation, Ek did not provide clear responses.
As his example of an artist benefiting from the service, Ek chose David Guetta.
“David Guetta nearly has 4 million Spotify followers, so whenever he posts a song, it goes out to 4 million people. This is a really huge marketing opportunity for artists.”
– Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
This line of thinking removes reality and isolates fantasy. Here are two things worth considering:
What happens to small artists in the massive time it takes Spotify to reach a billion users? If Spotify provided artists with listener data and other truly beneficial tools, the financial and social value artists were generating might be worth this wait. Otherwise, is the average artist truly benefiting from Spotify? More importantly, will these artists magically begin benefitting if they do reach a billion users?
Let’s get real here. Completely random people do not come across a local artist’s Spotify page just because they, along with thousands of other artists, happen to have music available through the service. It’s very likely that anyone listening to an artist on Spotify discovered them somewhere else first, probably when a friend shared a YouTube, Soundcloud, or Facebook link with them. I don’t think adding millions of users will change peoples’ natural music discovery habits.
Spotify is not intentionally evil. I use Spotify. It is simply not an artist-driven service, and I don’t really see how you could argue otherwise.