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Spotify coining it at home in Sweden: But are artists getting any?

Counting out the royalties with sticky fingers

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New figures from the Swedish music market suggest that streaming services are good for music. Revenue from streaming services grew 79 per cent in the first half of the year, making up for declines in CD sales and digital downloads, according to local trade body GLF. Spotify launched in Sweden first, in 2008.

CD sales were barely down at all - with just a one per cent decline - and although streaming services ate into a la carte downloads the overall revenue increased by an impressive 30 per cent.

Major record labels, particularly Universal Music, can be relied on to big up Spotify, since they are major investors and equity holders in the service. But have the labels undervalued the music they provide to it? The deals were struck when the industry was desperate to compete with 'free'. Musicians say the chickenfeed royalties they receive from Spotify mean that the label bosses have sold out too cheaply.

Cellist and composer Zoë Keating recently published her Spotify revenues on a public spreadsheet. While she commends it as an "awesome" listening platform, she earned just $281.87 from 72,000 plays, or around three-tenths of a cent per play. For comparison, for a five month period she earned $46,477 from iTunes downloads.

She also noted that Spotify pays indie label artists much less than artists on major labels. Her analysis is well worth a look.

"Spotify’s CEO is the 10th richest man in the UK music industry ahead of all but one artist on his service," guitarist David Lowery pointed out recently. ®

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