Melbourne-born songwriter Ben Abraham has weighed in on the debate that artists are underpaid by Spotify, noting the harsh realties faced by those within the music industry.
Ever since streaming became the most popular way for music-lovers to discover new tunes, artists have hit back at the services for the lack of money the musicians actually receive in the process.
While artists like Disturbed’s David Draiman and Car Seat Headrest have defended services like Spotify, others such as Portishead have previously noted how they received a paltry $3,280 from 34 million streams.
Likewise, Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein recently noted he has to supplement his income with fan meet-and-greets, while De La Soul noted an agreement with their old record label will see them shafted in terms of receiving appropriate payments ahead of their early music hitting streaming services.
Now, Aussie singer-songwriter Ben Abraham has added his voice into the debate, highlighting just how hard it is for artists to make a living with music.
Taking to his Instagram stories recently, Abraham (who became a household name thanks to co-writing Kesha’s 2017 single ‘Praying’) noted that the amount of money offered to artists or songwriters who are considered successful is barely enough to live on.
“This is pretty insane. It’s impossible for songwriters to make a living when mammoth companies like Spotify continue to underpay their work,” Abraham wrote, sharing images of a US mechanical royalty calculator displaying the plays received by ‘Praying’.
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“For what it’s worth, ‘Praying’ was considered a moderately successful song and according to this estimate, Spotify revenue would be around the 63k mark. These are streams that have accumulated over the 2.5 years since the song’s release which ends up being something like $2k a month.
“Now I got lucky because ‘Praying’ was also played on radio which is where the real money happens and so I have managed to take a decent yearly wage from the song,” Abraham continued.
“But radio playlists are extremely hard to infiltrate and are dominated by a relatively small pool of highly resourced artists and industry endorsed collaborators. And then there’s the reality that streaming platforms are at present the obvious future of music consumption.”
“So for a songwriter to have a sustainable career in this business, our options appear to be: infiltrate the inner circle of collaborators, write multiple ‘hit’ songs per year (and honestly I should be so lucky to have a song like ‘Praying’ happen ever again), or campaign to be compensated fairly for our work.”
“Streaming’s great,” Ben Abraham concluded. “And if you want to be super rad – when you find an artist or songwriter you really like, go buy their music.”
While the debate between surrounding Spotify and artists will undoubtedly continue for some time, it does make you wonder how such a popular song like Kesha’s ‘Praying’ has managed to result in such little payoff for those involved in its creation.