Back on Monday, Music Business Worldwide asked what they thought was an important question concerning Universal Music Group and Spotify. “Which of music’s two giants will be worth more at the end of 2021?”, pontificated their headline entirely in capital letters. And here in the real world, a number of people had some choice replies.
My favourite came from a friend who pointed me in the direction of this article, succinctly saying “who gives a flying f*** which one of the rich c**** is the richest?”. And quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more. The fact that Universal Music Group is worth around £38billion and their CEO is getting paid £150million this year doesn’t give me cause to cheer – it just leaves me feeling absolutely disgusted.
Or knowing that Spotify is worth about £32billion doesn’t fill my heart with joy. If anything, it fills it with a sense of despair and anger. This company has this kind of valuation, yet fails to pay artists anywhere near enough money so they can actually pay their bills. Spotify cannot even make a profit with this valuation – it has never done so since it was formed in 2006.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, being asked which very rich company is going to be even richer than the other is something which leaves me feeling utterly indifferent. If music was an industry where artists and labels were paid fairly for their work, I would be the first to celebrate companies being worth this kind of money.
But it isn’t. As I pointed out in a recent article, the four white men at the top of the music industry – Spotify’s Daniel Ek, Sony Music’s Rob Stringer, Warner’s Stephen Cooper and Universal’s Lucian Grainge – are worth over £3½billion between them. Their wealth is basically built on the back of the work of others – I find it difficult to avoid comparing the four men to slave plantation owners.
So to answer the question posed by Music Business Worldwide – I really don’t care. The plight of those on the ground – those actually making the music – is of much more interest to me. And it really should be of more interest to you…