Multiple artists have waved farewell to Spotify, a popular online music streaming site. Due to a decrease in album sales, artists continue to pull their music to increase revenue.
Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Beyoncé, Justin Moore, Brantley Gilbert and Garth Brooks are part of the growing army of artists removing their music from Spotify. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Swift explains her reasoning.
“Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently,” wrote Swift. “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.”
Album sales have significantly decreased in recent years. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) reports album sales for 2014 dipped to 289.4 million units, which is an 8.4 percent reduction from the previous year. While albums sales plummeted, streaming services grew in 2014.
According to data from Nielsen SoundScan, a system that tracks sales of music, listeners in the United States streamed 70.3 billion songs in the first half of 2014. This was an increase of 42 percent from the first half of 2013.
The increase in streaming directly decreased album sales. That’s why artists like Swift and Aldean removed their music from Spotify. Swift pulled all of her music, but not all artists took the same approach. Aldean refrained from adding his new album, “Old Boots, New Dirt” to Spotify.
“The debate the whole music industry is having on streaming is complicated,” Aldean said in a statement. “And while I’m definitely paying attention to the business side of things, I am first and foremost an artist. I’m an artist whose career has been built by the songwriters, publishers, producers and engineers that line Music Row in Nashville.”
“What they do has value, and I want everyone who is involved in making my music to be paid fairly,” Aldean said. “This is about trying to do what is right for the people who have given me a great life.”
Like Aldean, artists like Beyoncé, Justin Moore and Brantley Gilbert have only pulled their latest work. Like Swift, Garth Brooks has removed his music from all streaming sites.
It’s hard to protect music from piracy. Artists like Swift and many others have put countless hours into the music they produce and expect to be compensated for it. As a way to combat the issue, Spotify created their online streaming site with paid membership opportunities and royalties each time a song is played.
Artists receive less than a penny (between $0.006 and $0.0084) each time one of their songs is streamed on Spotify, according to spotifyartists.com.
Spotify pays out approximately 70 percent of their total revenue to rights holders. A rights holder can be a label, publisher, distributor or independent artists. The 70 percent is split between the rights holders and the artist. The rights holder allocates the royalties to each artist.
MIDIA Research, an analysis and consulting firm focused on digital music, found that 23 percent of streaming customers previously bought multiple albums a month.
Instead of a customer making multiple payments of $10-plus payments every 30 days, they are spending $9.99 on a streaming subscription.
Artists like Swift and Aldean have made their decision and have stuck with it despite criticism.
“There are many people who predict the downfall of music sales and the irrelevancy of the album as an economic entity,” said Swift. “I am not one of them.”