Facebook and Spotify = Good News for Indie Artists?

Yesterday at the f8 tech conference in San Francisco, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek was on-stage and shared some interesting statistics about Spotify users that have connected with their Facebook account, like the online magazine Mashable reports:

According to Ek, Spotify users that connect with Facebook listen to more music, as well as a wider variety of music. They are also twice as likely to pay for music. Elk also talked about the potential of music discovery using Facebook as a catalyst for finding new jams, sharing playlists with friends and seeing what your friends are listening to.

Doesn’t that sound good? Twice as likely to pay for music. Wow. It means that Spotify users are more adventurous (than Pandora users?), more generous (than mp3 buccaneers) and are therefore more likely to check out indie artists or music by unknown bands!

But other writers on this topic have come to similar conclusions – check out my blog post “Are You An Indie Artist Or A Second Class Artist?” – it’s all not that straightforward or positive at all. I do realize that these huge data bases take a while to be pulled up for all music to be made available to users, but it is strange that all commercial number one hits, by artists signed with major labels like Adele has been audible since day one and yours probably still isn’t?

It just doesn’t feel fair. But that aside. We could just generously smile (because we’re cool indie artists…) if it didn’t get even worse: The payment systems simply aren’t equal either. Looking at our sales statements I can confirm that the income from the streaming music service Spotify is low. It is just fractions of pennies, sometimes so small that it amounts to $0.00. But the truth is that major label artists and indie artists are being paid unequally. The Guardian had already reported about this as early as in February 2011, stating amongst other good observations:

Spotify is a great music service for its users and I’m sure most musicians would prefer to be featured on the site. What they don’t want is to be treated as second class. A popular track is a popular track and should be rewarded equally whether it has had the powerful PR machinery of a major label or not. The internet was supposed to liberate artists, giving unsigned artists the same chance of succeeding by cutting out the middleman.

Consequently, like the L.A. Weekly reported yesterday, a third independent metal label Prosthetic Records has pulled it’s content from Spotify, joining Century Media and Metal Blade, two other Los Angeles-area metal labels. “There [does] not appear to be an upside,” Prosthetic co-owner E.J. Johantgen told the L.A. Weekly.

So – what’s your choice? Are you just grateful to get your music heard? Do you see it as promotion, similar to giving away free music? Or do you feel mistreated as a second class musician and are also planning to pull your music from Spotify?


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