‘Let’s keep music special. F--- Spotify’: on-demand streaming and the controversy over artist royalties

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On-demand streaming music services have expanded significantly in recent years. Services such as Spotify and Deezer are widely expected to become the dominant means of mass music consumption in the future and have been significant factors in helping recording industries in some countries arrest their long-term decline. The emergence of such services (especially the largest of them, Spotify) has caused controversy, however, with both major stars and smaller independent artists publicly criticising the low levels of royalty payments such services have thus far generated. This paper provides an overview of the controversy, concentrating on the criticisms of Spotify from independent labels and musicians. In such a rapidly-moving sector, it is unwise to offer any definitive predictions and thus the purpose of this paper is to outline as clearly as possible the parameters of the current debate. To achieve this, it considers the business models associated with streaming music and their place within the contemporary recorded music ecosystem, most notably in relation to piracy and declining record purchases. It concludes with a consideration of streaming services in relation to the broader power dynamics of the recording industry suggesting that while services like Spotify may cause problems for independent musicians they rely upon a logic of scaling that correlates with the existing practices of the major record labels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
JournalCreative Industries Journal
Issue number2
Early online date29 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Structured keywords

  • Cultural Work


  • Spotify
  • streaming media
  • Popular Music
  • Recording Industry
  • Music Industry


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