Spotify’s monopoly on users


Musicians on Spotify do not make much money per stream and must rely on other platforms in addition to Spotify for a sufficient profit.

Julia Carroll

With the recent surge in usage of electronics and digital media, debates have risen about whether Spotify is helpful or harmful for those just entering the music industry. It can be said that Spotify is beneficial for musicians because of the exposure it provides, but recently, due to low pay and the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians are struggling.

With an average of 356 million active users, Spotify is the world’s most popular audio streaming service according to tech media website CNET. If someone is looking to start a music career, posting their music on Spotify would be an obvious first step. The platform’s interactive algorithms and sharing capabilities provide musicians with exposure.

“With Spotify, I think people are discovering a lot of artists they might not discover otherwise,” said Australian DJ, musician and producer Flume. His first album was released to Spotify back in 2012 and he is now selling out shows all over Australia.

According to the Orpheus Audio Academy, Spotify on average pays its artists $0.003 per stream, meaning they must have 1,000 streams in order to make three to five dollars. On top of this, artists say their checks can take months to come in the mail.

Successful 90s musician and producer Beck knows the ins and outs of the music industry. He believes “what Spotify pays me is not even enough to pay the musicians playing with me or the people working on the discs. It’s not working.”

Simply streaming one’s music on Spotify is insufficient for a successful music career. Typically, small bands rely on earning profit from performances and selling merchandise, but since 2020, many musicians have been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the loss of income from events and tours, musicians were left with low and inconsistent earnings from Spotify.

According to the BBC, live music revenues fell 85 percent in 2020 and a UK Music report predicted that artists would lose 65-80 percent of their income during the pandemic.

Communications High School senior Giulia DeFabritus of Freehold Township is in an all girls rock band called The Bellas and is familiar with the ups and downs of Spotify.

“I believe that while Spotify does have its advantages in terms of giving people easy access to listen to bands’ songs, it’s really hard for musicians to actually make anything significant from it,” Giulia said. “It’s much better to spread your content across multiple platforms such as Apple Music or Youtube in addition to this instead of relying on just one app or website in order to actually reap the rewards of your hard work.”

There are many challenges to developing a successful career in the music industry, and the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have only compounded the difficulties. Although things are slowly getting back to normal, it doesn’t mean that musicians aren’t still struggling; it is hard to find venues, producers and even listeners these days.