Kiwis expected to stay with low-return Spotify

Kiwis in the music business are not about to follow international music star Thom Yorke and yank their music from streaming site Spotify, but there is support for the Radiohead singer.

Yorke, who also has solo side projects, this week pulled his solo music from the site, posting on Twitter that he was “standing up for our fellow musicians”.

“Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples,” he also posted.

Spotify, a streaming rather than downloading site, pays a fraction of a cent per play. Most artists make much more money from downloads on sites such as iTunes than they do from streaming.

A study in 2010 calculated that, to earn the monthly minimum US wage, artists would need to sell 1161 CDs, 12,399 downloads or have their track streamed 849,817 times.

Mikee Tucker, New Zealand’s Loop record label founder, applauded Yorke’s move, but could not see local musicians following suit.

“Our artists don’t have the weight to make a statement like Thom has,” Tucker said.

Only a small portion of Loop artists’ digital revenue came from Spotify.

“Everything may be moving to Spotify but the trickle down to the labels and artists isn’t there.”

Paul McKessar, who manages Brooke Fraser and The Naked and Famous, said while it was no secret Spotify made little money for artists, it had come into a “piracy-ridden” world where people were losing a lot to illegal downloads.

Spotify made no secret of its business model and that it would take time to get enough “critical mass” for artists to make decent money.

He did not believe Yorke was trying to get all artists to leave Spotify, rather that the website pay artists a bigger cut – an idea he supported.

“I don’t think there’s anything to gain at this stage by everyone leaving Spotify.”

Phoenix Foundation founding member Samuel Flynn Scott said while he could appreciate what Yorke was saying, “I don’t think I’m ready to abandon any option that is available”.

But the industry still needed to find new ways for people to get music in ways they want and still get fair payment back to artists.

Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne recently told how his hit Lazy earned him just US$400 from Spotify.

In May this year Spotify New Zealand marked a year of operation. In that first year, New Zealanders had streamed 10 million hours of music through the site.

Six60 was the most streamed local artist, followed closely by Lorde.

Boy band Titanium had the most streamed local song with Come on Home.

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