stars spotify

Canadian indie rock band Stars goes after Spotify for unfair artist royalty rate

Streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify have certainly changed the game for music listeners who want instant, affordable access to pretty much any song or album you could ever think of — but they haven't made life easier for small artists trying to make it in the industry. 

Canadian indie rock band Stars recently brought this issue to light with a few Twitter quips aimed at Spotify just several days ago. 

"Hey @spotify could you take down the new album by some other band called Stars that is presently on our page and that you are promoting as our new album?" they wrote on the platform Friday. "Hundreds of cents are at stake."

The official Spotify account promptly responded by recommending the band reach out to their Artist Support team, and asking if they needed help with anything else. But the members of Stars clearly weren't quite finished roasting the streaming service. 

"Cool thanks!" they responded. "There is one other thing- could you pay us a fair royalty rate for our music? Cheers."

Unsurprisingly, Spotify didn't respond to the second tweet. 

The Montreal-based band's cheeky tweets point to a real issue currently facing the music industry. Streaming has taken over, and smaller artists are having an even harder time making ends meet. 

"Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights," reads a CNBC article that argues that Spotify and Apple Music should become record labels so musicians can make a fair living.

"And the 'holder' can be split among the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters. In short, streaming is a volume game."

And while some of the world's top artists may be raking in the dough from Spotify — Taylor Swift made between $280,000 and $390,000 for Shake It Off in 2014, according to TIME — smaller artists are raking in pennies.

Following the quick online exchange between Stars and Spotify, one Twitter user pointed out that the band is free to remove their music from Spotify if they're so unhappy with the royalty rate.

But Stars responded that it's a losing game either way. 

"yeah, but our label wouldnt be very happy," they replied to the suggestion. "and as it now constitutes half the music industry...i dunno. fucked either way, basically."

And while there's no doubt that earning a living from making music has always been a tough task, it seems the era of streaming is making it increasingly difficult for anyone other than the world's biggest stars.

"When people bought albums and even mp3s, there was a glimmer of hope that a musician could earn a decent income on sales. But now musicians are essentially giving away their music in return for pennies," writer Kabir Sehgal argues in the CNBC article.

"Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services should raise rates considerably, so that artists can make more money from their wares."

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