Flying Vinyl Blog

Spotify sponsoring festivals is like McDonald’s sponsoring The Olympics

- Craig Evans

With festival season upon us, a line of corporate bodies are once again queuing up to place big sponsorship deals onto stages this summer and streaming platforms such as Spotify have been getting in on the action hosting stages at events such as Bonnaroo SXSW and Coachella in recent years.

These deals are being increasingly used to create an illusion that these platforms support artists. But most streaming platforms are handing millions of dollars every day and equity stakes in their business platforms to major labels in return for allowing them to exploit the rights of artists who are being compensated appallingly (usually about $0.004 per stream).

Thom Yorke famously said, “As musicians we need to fight the Spotify thing… all these fuckers get in the way… We don’t need you… so fuck off” and he’s absolutely right.

Now it’s worth saying that streaming platforms are not 100% to blame for this issue, there are labels who are as exploitative as those networks and it’s really down to people at the top of the artist ladder who hold more power (like Thom Yorke) to stand up and protest this.

A few months back Vince Staples played a stage that Spotify was sponsoring in the US and took a moment to address the issue saying: “Shout-out to Spotify. Thank you for giving me this cheque to make up for what you’ve done to me and all my musical friends… Later, he told fans to “listen to your favourite album 1,000, 2,000 times so everybody can get an album sale.”

It really sums things up well, suck money out of art in one breath and then give a bit to a few (publicly) in another to make up for it. It’s an illusion.

In reality if a company like Spotify really wanted to support artists they need to raise the cost of their subscription and cut artists in more effectively whilst ensuring that money being handed to major labels is being passed onto artists so they are fairly compensated for their work. Food for thought this summer.