Artists vs Spotify… why so many are turning on the popular streaming platform

We all love the ease and accessibility of Spotify’s services, but what about the lesser-known power dynamic and underrepresented indie content creators?

Surely you are all very well acquainted with the streaming platform known and loved as Spotify. What you may not be privy to is the scrutiny the popular service has come under, led by none other than… its very own artistic providers.

Spotify boycott
Source- Tech Junkie

A recent controversy you may be aware of is the Neil Young vs Joe Rogan saga.

Young’s has removed most of his music from Spotify following the rockers objection to his music being catalogued on a platform that also offers Rogan’s podcast.

The only songs left streaming on Spotify are those included in compilations.

Considering the strong hand Spotify deals in the music business, the boycott comes not only as a shock but also as a bit of a wake-up call.

The removal of Young’s tracks comes after a letter was penned to his manager and label demanding Spotify remove his music after Rogan had spread COVID vaccine misinformation.

(Spotify) can have Rogan or Young. Not both”, Young wrote.

The decision has been made and Rogan will remain a staple in the Spotify podcast playlists.

Spotify Neil Young vs Joe Rogan
Source- People Magazine

This news has prompted some serious backlash from, not only Young fans and Spotify users but the World Health Organisation.

In a recent tweet WHO chief wrote to Young saying, “@NeilYoungNYA, thanks for standing up against misinformation and inaccuracies around #COVID19 vaccination.

Spotify has been quick on the defensive strike labelling their decision as a balance of both “safety for listeners and freedom for creators,” as well as claiming they had removed over 20,000 podcasts episodes breaching COVID content policies.

One small detail that has been conveniently thrown to the wayside is that The Joe Rogan Experience is the top-rated podcast on Spotify, who also own the exclusive publishing rights to the program.

Call it business if you wish, but when over 270 scientists and medical professionals sign a letter urging action against Rogan, it is hard to justify certain decisions.

On the opposing end of the debate are the people that believe Spotify is doing the right thing enabling Rogan freedom of speech.

Okay so it is seeming obvious that Spotify is a business-focused platform with progressive domination in its view, but to be fair, they are just doing what so many businesses do.

It would be unjust of us to only acknowledge one side of this argument even if our position on the matter is steadfast.

More users equals more success equals more money for the business….blah blah blah we see and hear it constantly. But what about the music makers? What about the artists slogging it out to make a dime on what (they hope) could be the next big hit?

Let us delve into the commodity that makes the world spin and CEO’s giggle with glee…money, baby.

Spotify has been consistently criticised for its low artists’ payout per stream.

The platform claims to pay out somewhere between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream but some unsigned artists claim they are generating less than that.

Independent labels and artists are at a severe disadvantage, with major labels owning stock in Spotify and are able to also profit from that.

Spotify boycott
Source- Haulix Daily

The streaming platform also pays to license the music of major labels, something that is not offered to indie artists.

This allows the larger labels and artists to get away with the low streaming payout because they are also making money from the licensing.

It is essentially a lose-lose situation for the indie labels and creators.

So much hard work and dedication to art producing quality work should be rewarded fairly.

This is not only the view of many creators, small-time bands and indies but also the likes of bigger names, such as Taylor Swift.

It is my opinion that music should not be free…I hope they (artists) don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art,” she shared.

Coldplay joined the party holding firm on their ‘anti-free’ views. Both of their albums Mylo Xyloto and Ghost Stories were withheld from Spotify release, to make a statement around the accessibility of music.

While we are at it let’s add beloved British icon, Adele, into the mix. She has been extremely open regarding her thoughts around streaming services, claiming they are disposable and would much prefer to purchase the physical copy.

Let’s slow down here for a second and not disregard the fact that despite the questionable antics of Spotify, it is still a bloody well-developed service. In a world thriving on accessibility, people latch onto convenience and reliability.

Who doesn’t have a Spotify account? Many of us here at Happy are subscribers, both in a consumer and contributor sense and find the platform extremely useful in categorising and accessing art. From a service perspective, they have hit the nail on the head.

However, artists and creatives should not be subject to unfair and unjust decision making whether it be in a monetary sense or the spread of dangerous information.

What is it going to take for the systems to change? More boycotts from household names? Indie artists refusing to create? Record labels withdrawing their licensing? Let’s be honest this will never happen.

If Taylor and Adele couldn’t shift em’, perhaps we call in Queen Lizzy and see if she can make a dent.