Story by Jennifer Gardner
Photo from Spotify
Spotify’s recent brushes with ethicality complaints surrounding their pricing structure haven’t had a huge impact on Drake University students, especially when it comes to long-term use of the service.
Even when Nigel Godrich, a British producer and musician best known for working with the band Radiohead, took to Twitter earlier this summer to rail against Spotify’s meager payments per song listen, students continued to flock to the service.
Spotify is a free music streaming service that offers users access to an almost unlimited music library in return for listening to advertisements unless they decide to upgrade to the premium service for $10 per month. It’s popular with college students because they have access to millions of songs without the need to pay for them.
Ben Cole, a sophomore campus influencer for Spotify, said Spotify is a better option for artists because they aren’t completely losing revenue money like they did when many people were illegally downloading music.
“With the free downloading sites that are out there, artists are making music and not getting paid for it , which is wrong,” said Cole. “On Spotify, artists get paid per listen of their song, so the more times their song is played, the more money they get.”
For Annelise Tarnowski, a junior who interned with Minnesota Public Radio over the summer, Spotify has revolutionized the way she finds and consumes music, even though she finds it hard to justify using a streaming service that pays the artists so little per listen. “It’s really hard (using) Spotify because I have a moral problem with it, especially after hearing Nigel Godrich speak out against it,” Tarnowski said. “I feel a little guilty, but it’s hard when that’s a free, easy option to discover music rather than buying every album that seems interesting.”
Spotify’s website explains that because they have negotiated specific deals with record companies and artists, their exact payment structure is confidential.
However, it is rumored to be anywhere between a fraction of a cent and several cents per listen. Spotify does say it has paid almost 70 percent of its total revenue to the artists and their record companies.
Spotify has paid out over $500 million to the rights holders, but the smaller artists still feel they aren’t getting compensated enough because their limited number of song plays aren’t getting them the revenue they would get from selling entire albums.
Justin Duruji, a junior campus influencer for Spotify, stressed the deal that Spotify is for students.
“Spotify is such a great deal, especially when it comes to buying entire albums,” Duruji said. “Paying $10 per month for the premium service saves so much.”
Within five weeks of each other, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Kanye and several other artists all dropped new albums, and it would’ve been so much more expensive to buy them all if I didn’t have Spotify.”
Although she struggles with it ethically, Tarnowski continues to use Spotify to discover new music and listen to old favorites.
“I don’t think it’s fair, but then again, they can’t afford to pay everyone what they should be getting paid,” said Tarnowski. “(Spotify) is a service that has started a revolution in the way we consume music in our culture, and it has made music more accessible for everyone.”