Published Apr 12, 2010Last week, the British government passed the Digital Economy Bill, a new legislation that could see illegal downloaders booted from the Internet entirely if they don't clean up their act. Responding to the act, UK Music exec Feargel Sharkey said the ruling would require innovative new services for legal web-based music. However, legal streaming site Spotify may not be such a great service when it comes to benefiting actual artists.
According to a new BBC 6 Music article, while the site does promote paid streaming and downloading for artists, many songwriters are receiving minimal or no payment at all.
"At the moment, the amounts of money that are actually being received are tiny," said Patrick Rackow, head of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. "That might be because there is no money there. But there is no clear trail that can be established so that the songwriter can trace back what they ought to have got. These things are behind a blanket of secrecy, and that is extremely worrying." Rackow says the service is "unlikely to filter down into payments for the artists," partially due to the fact that record labels own a portion of Spotify. "I think that harms Spotify, it harms the writers' perception of Spotify and this is a service that they want to support," he added.
Ultimately, these issues point to larger questions about what is fair pay for songwriters in an era where career musicians face extinction. "It's hard to say that anyone has a right to make a living out of writing songs but if you write songs that people actually want to hear then I think that does give you some sort of right to get some remuneration back," Rackow said.
So far, Spotify has declined to comment on the British organization's criticisms against the streaming service.