Whilst you’re at it, could you tell Spotify to pay more to artists? Adele requests Spotify remove shuffle as default button on albums – and Daniel Ek is too starstruck to ignore her!

Is there a way to get Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, to take any notice of you? Well, unless you’re Sofia Levander – she’s his wife and most men can verify you ignore the missus at your peril – the answer appears to be no. From calls to pay more to artists to uproar after he told them to release more music, he’s a man whose ears are impervious to criticism.

But this weekend, the world discovered that there is a second way to get Spotify’s billionaire tyrant to listen to you. And that’s if your name is Adele Laurie Blue Adkins MBE – known professionally simply as Adele. The brilliant but annoying singer pops up every couple of years, appears all over the media, then disappears again to count her money.

Well, she released an album the other day, simply called “30”. I had no intention of listening to it, but I just might force myself to do so after Adele managed the impossible. She got Daniel Ek to actually do something – remove the auto-shuffle option for albums.

In Adele’s own words…

Two possibilities here. One, Daniel Ek foresaw a big campaign playing out across social media if he refused the demand and agreed to it for the sake of a quiet life. Or two, he’s just starstruck.

Either way, perhaps Adele could use her newly discovered powers to get some other things out of Spotify. Like more money for artists, for example. A penny per stream sounds good. In your own time, Adele…

No cash to pay artists properly, but lots of money for new defence tech companies – Daniel Ek’s investment of €100million into AI business raises all manner of ethical questions…

This blog firmly believes that Spotify hates the artists and labels signed up to its platform. Their incessant attempts to reduce the amount of royalties they pay out, plus ongoing legal battles to stop themselves from having to pay more tell me all I need to know about this heartless company.

Last year, Spotify’s boss Daniel Ek announced he was going to invest €1billion of his own money. As he’s obviously entitled to do, having made it off the backs of musicians who don’t even earn enough from his site to pay their rent. But the bit which raised eyebrows everywhere was where he was going to spend it.

You see, he wasn’t going to splash his cash on musicians who desperately needed more help amidst a pandemic which had robbed them of numerous opportunities to earn their daily crust. No, he’d decided he wanted to splurge a billion on upcoming technology companies. That’s some way to thank the musicians who made you what you are today, Daniel…

Nothing much has happened since – until Ek mentioned he’d made his first investment of €100million into a company called Helsing AI. The purpose of the company appears to be to deal with things like cyber attacks, by collating information from numerous sources and assessing it in real-time. The idea is to allow quicker decisions to be made.

At which point, I can’t help but wonder if Ek has walked into the kind of future moral quandary even Helsing AI couldn’t help him with. First of all, this company says it helps “liberal democracies”. How do they assess what a liberal democracy actually is, and what happens if a less scrupulous regime wants to get on board – would they say no to working with them?

Secondly, the company claims the information could be used for what it defines as “kinetic” situations. What does this mean? Are they saying governments could use the data to make pre-emptive attacks on other states, and what kind of attacks could these be? Or are they saying it could be used in a war situation where you have troops on the ground? It’s not exactly clear.

And thirdly, artificial intelligence is precisely that – artificial. I’m no expert here, but I sense that artificial intelligence is one of those things that, as human beings, we don’t fully understand. Infact, because it’s what we define as artificial, it might even be possible we can’t entirely understand it.

It’s not just me saying it – Stephen Hawking said back in 2014 that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”. And Elon Musk has warned in the past that artificial intelligence is “our biggest existential threat”.

Doubtless, however, that Ek does not agree with such a take. Still, I can’t help but wonder what Spotify’s staff – who aren’t known for being shy and demure when it comes to expressing their views – think of his latest venture on the side.

And questions must surely be asked about who advises Ek. Whilst the final decision was clearly his, did no one at any point suggest it might not be a good idea for a man who made his money out of music – count the number of anti-war songs versus pro-war songs – to invest in a defence company.

Helsing AI appears to make very much of the fact they consider themselves an ethical company. Exactly how ethical they will be remains to be seen – but if I were Daniel Ek, let’s just say I’d be keeping a very close eye on this promise…

Spotify wants to reduce its royalty payouts to songwriters – so just WHY does Daniel Ek’s website hate the people who made him a multi-billionaire?

I’ve come to the conclusion that Daniel Ek hates musicians. And by that, I include artists, singers, songwriters, that bloke you got in to play the guitar solo bit, publishers and the rest. I simply cannot come to any other remotely sensible conclusion when I look at the evidence.

His website pays out utterly appallingly streaming rates. They always have done. And in 2018, when they were told by the US courts to raise their rates, they’re continuing to appeal against them now. Not only that, but they’re now trying to reduce the rates they pay songwriters.

Try as I might, I simply cannot come to any other conclusion. The music streaming industry increasingly give off the attitude they’d prefer they didn’t have to pay anyone at all for the music they have online. There seems to be a relentless battle within the industry to reduce royalties all the time – and I’m beginning to think it’s only a matter of time before one shows their hand on the issue.

And then people ask me why I don’t make music anymore…

R Kelly’s streams went up by 22% in the week after his conviction for sex trafficking, and his album sales rocketed by 517% – so it’s no wonder Daniel “Mr Burns” Ek refuses to take his songs off Spotify!

Money means everything to the people at the top of the music world – and quite a lot of those below the top. This is one thing that you must remember about the music industry above all others. And the other thing to know is they absolutely love algorithms, because it means they get to spend more time scratching their arses.

In the olden days, they had to make calculated risks and guesswork to work out what songs were going to do well. Not only that, but they had to invest big sums of money into music to get it out there – all those CDs and vinyl don’t press themselves, and distributing all that stuff wasn’t cheap. Nowadays, the fact it’s mostly MP3 and WAV files on computers being sent from one place to another reduces their costs to a fraction of what they used to be.

And the internet removes much of the guesswork. Social media, streaming and the rest enable record labels and artists to see what’s being listened to, what’s being skipped and almost any other metric under the sun. Which means if they see something is doing well on streaming, they can get more music like that out very quickly.

It also means that labels can immediately cash in whenever controversy occurs. According to Rolling Stone magazine, streams of R Kelly’s music went up by 22% in the week following his conviction on eight sex trafficking and one racketeering charge. Streams on video – such as on YouTube – went up by 23% and physical album sales rocketed by 517% in the same period.

The “he may be a sex offender but his music is great” line is obviously one that holds some water with sections of the public. Which is a pretty unedifying fact – and also helps explain why no audio streaming services, including the Daniel “Mr Burns” Ek owned  Spotify have made an executive decision to remove his music from their services.

They’re under no obligation to host it and can remove it whenever they like. I mean, are the record labels so incredibly thick that they’re going to take legal action so the music of a sex offender is more easily available to the public? I couldn’t see this going down well once the revelation hit the press, can you?

Incidentally, I’d be curious to find out whether the controversy surrounding Derrick May has helped push up the number of listens his music gets online. I’ll start researching this one and hopefully get back to you soon…

Is he still behind the sofa looking for more money to buy Arsenal? Daniel Ek hasn’t tweeted about Spotify in two months – and talk of him snapping up the football club has vanished too…

I haven’t written anything about Daniel “Mr Burns” Ek and his cash cow Spotify for a while now, have I? So I thought I’d put that right and have a good look to see what the minted Swede has been getting up to recently.

The answer appears to involve spending very little time on social media. Perhaps he’s been busy rummaging around the backs of sofas at Spotify’s offices in Stockholm looking for a few extra hundred million dollars so he can buy Arsenal football club – just like he said he wanted to months ago?

Even more curious, however, is the fact he hasn’t tweeted anything about Spotify – bar one tweet on September 14th in reference to a podcast which he features on himself – in two months. Infact, the last thing about his non-profit making site that he mentioned was on July 29th. Two months ago today…

I’ve been getting the feeling for quite some time that Ek is getting bored of Spotify. During the pandemic, he announced he was investing nearly £1billion in deeptech – it tells you a lot about the man when at a time of hardship for the musicians on the site which made him a billionaire, he decides not to do anything to help them. An unworthy act from an unworthy person.

And of course, let’s not forget his expressions of interest – rebuffed so far – in purchasing a football club. The only part of Spotify he does show an interest in is podcasts, and given the eye-watering sums being paid to sign some of them – $25million alone for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

So far, the couple have only made one podcast, and it was their celebrity pals talking about how they spent 2020 – meaning they did almost no actual work on it! When they’re paying out such gargantuan sums of money to get this content, they have to shift a ton of advertising to break even, let alone profit.

Still, there is one piece of good news for Spotify. The British government has recommended the Competition and Markets Authority probe the major labels. I suspect it’s a prospect Daniel Ek is quite comfortable with – the heat being on the labels means the heat is off his site’s utterly abysmal payout rates…

Isn’t £2.6billion enough money for you to live on, Daniel? Now Spotify is making clear it’s only interested in helping people out with money, questions are asked about what new artists should do…

Yesterday, I wrote about the Campaigns feature which Spotify are currently allowing a limited number of artists to test out – because they’re kind like that, obviously.

This would basically put Spotify into a similar position to Facebook – where in order to give yourself any sort of significant reach, you have to dig into your pockets and send money to Mr Zuckerberg. Because $130billion is obviously not enough money.

Which poses a question. If you’re a new or upcoming artist, why on earth should you waste your time putting your money on Spotify? Because the blunt truth is, they don’t want you there. They’re not going to promote you. They’re not going to help other people find your music. And they’re definitely not going to be paying you – quite the opposite if the Campaigns feature kicks off.

If you’re starting out now, it quite literally makes no sense to bother with Spotify. When you’re on Bandcamp or your own website, you can communicate with the people whom are listening to your music or buying your merchandise. You can get their email addresses and stay in touch. You can send them nice little extras. On Spotify, or any of the streaming sites? You can’t do any of those things. Anything which might send you away from Spotify, they simply won’t let you do it.

Since I stepped back from making music myself, I’ve come to realise a few things. I was always wary of streaming, but I see the full story now – and it infuriates me. Streaming doesn’t exist for the benefit of artists – it exists solely for the benefit of rich majors, who own stakes and shares in Spotify, and to enrichen Daniel Ek.

The company can afford to pay an average salary of $132,000 a year (according to 2019 figures) yet it also expects us to believe it can’t afford to pay artists a penny a stream.

What a load of absolute rubbish. And a whole generation of promising, talented new musicians are being terribly let down by this shambolics system that just doesn’t care about them…

What’s next, paying a fee for an algorithm to consider plugging your music? Spotify unveils its new Campaigns feature to a limited few – and what a surprise, artists absolutely hate it!

By all rights, Spotify should have been declared bankrupt and closed down years ago. If it operated in any other sector of the economy, it would have done. The company doesn’t like to talk about this, but it has never made a profit even once during its entire 15 years in existence.

If this had occurred in a large company elsewhere, you can be absolutely assured the authorities would have been combing through everything to find out why.

The streaming giant is constantly under a certain amount of pressure to actually make some profit by its long-suffering investors. The pressure goes up and down over time, and currently seems to be on the rise.

Last week, Spotify revealed they were trialling a new plan, where users would pay 99p per month and get to listen to as much as they wanted. The downside? You’d still have to listen to adverts between songs, something removed from the £9.99 plan.

And now, they’ve decided to start charging the artists and labels who allow the site to exist. A new feature called Campaigns is currenly in Beta mode. I haven’t been allowed in, but someone who has got in touch with me. This person was incandescent. There’s no other way to put it. Rest assured that a large number of swear words were coined in the direction of Spotify themselves and boss Daniel “Mr Burns” Ek…

Using the Campaigns feature, artists would have to pay Spotify to show their own followers that they’ve just put out some new music. I kid you not. Such a policy might work for the majors – who, in many cases, have control over their artist’s Spotify accounts – who know they’ll be making their money back easily.

For everyone else? This just looks like a kick in the teeth.

Once you’ve paid, your song is promoted to your fans. And each time one of those fans subsequently clicks on the promotional link generated by Spotify, the artist has to pay Spotify again! This money is required upfront, not billed afterwards. This effectively means that the artist has to stick money in an account with the site which gets deducted afterwards. No money in the pot equals no promotion via the site.

It’s really no wonder that Pete Townshend once called Daniel Ek “a f***ing crook”, is it?

Thanks to Fourth Strike Records for initially making me aware of this story.

Make music all your life and earn a pittance through Spotify, or sign a $25million deal for 35 minutes work? With rules like that, artists should designate their tracks as podcasts!

Daniel Ek infamously said last summer that if artists and labels wanted to be paid more money by Spotify, they should make more music. He particularly took aim at artists who only release an album once every few years. Basically, Ek sees music as a product that should be churned out as if it was produced in a factory.

I wonder if he’s wishing he’d applied the same criteria onto his podcasters. Joe Rogan, for all the controversy about him, certainly has a solid work ethic – he makes around three podcasts per week on average. But there are others who haven’t produced anything in months.

Such as possibly his biggest signing – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Since signing them up last year for a reported fee of $25million, they have turned out just one 35-minute, mind numbingly dull podcast. They’ve made more money out of Spotify than almost every artist in existence ever will – and they’ve not even completed one half of a football game worth of work.

Next time I make a track, I’m going to call it a podcast. Get your wallet ready, Ek…