The Spotify Controversy

Is Spotify worth it for musicians? Taylor Swift doesn’t seem to think so. Are her fans having the wool pulled over their eyes? Or is it just another scam on the big market of freely available music? Ellen Desmond posed the popular question to some fan favourite Irish bands.


 Mark Prendergast, Kodaline:       

“We’re the kind of band, the more music we can get out to people the better and a lot of people are starting to go with Spotify instead of iTunes. For one thing, it does hurt album sales but on the other hand it does get your music out to more people and you’ll sell more tickets to the gigs. As much as it is important to us to sell albums and make a living, once people are listening to our music we don’t really mind. We wouldn’t take our music off Spotify, it’s too important for a young band like us. Someone like Taylor Swift, she can afford to take her music off Spotify. She’s basically a super power, might as well be president of America.”


Darragh Graham, Hermitage Green:                                              

“I’ll give you an example I suppose from when we weren’t known. We were known in Limerick but outside of that we weren’t, until we did a few videos. We did a few covers of different songs and things like that and videoed them and put them up on YouTube – which is something that’s free. So people saw it, liked it, and then spread it. And then our name and our band became popular, to some extent. So without that, we might not now still be a band. So that was a form of releasing our music, so that was through YouTube, which is free. And then, Spotify, you might see yourself as spending a tenner a month on Spotify but basically for a band like us, it is like giving your music out for free as well. So, in one extent, when we use YouTube we use it to our own advantage. And now, if we’re to do the same with Spotify, if we were to stick to our morals we would probably have the same opinion as we did with YouTube. It’s the same method. Yet, we probably feel hard done by, as a band. Probably because you put so much time and effort and you put so much thought into writing those songs. And then you just say, there you go, take it. But at the same time it’s spreading our music and giving people a chance to listen to our new songs, and hopefully if they like it, then they’ll come to gigs and if they come to gigs at least we’ll earn our living from that. I’ve just kind of resigned to the idea and the fact that forget about trying to make money through selling your music, just focus on trying to make money through gigs, just living off gig money.”


 Paul Savage, O Emperor:

“I don’t think you really have a choice. For us to pull ourselves off Spotify would be completely counterproductive. I
think it’s great, I always check out new bands, like it’s not as good for artists because they don’t get paid what they should but unfortunately it’s kind of hard to change it. It’s such a massive thing but for us I think it’s a good thing, it’s better to have people listening to our music and liking it and then coming to a show, which is your main output now; there’s no harm in that.”


Jamie Martin, Cry Monster Cry:

“Richie my brother is a big Spotify fan about I for the last two years, I was adamantly against it. I know our music is up there, it has to be up there, our publisher put it up there…but I just don’t feel it’s right because we’re just not being paid. I looked into it and I think 100 plays equals one sale. So, if someone buys our single on iTunes they’ll pay 99c for it and for that to reach the same on Spotify it has to be streamed 100 times. It could be lowered, really, if they lowered it to 50 or 25 I’d be happier. But having said that then, Spotify made our account official, which means we get to run ourselves a profile and the more an artist runs their Spotify and makes playlists and the more the fans love the profile, then the more followers they get and the more listeners they get. So I was kind of forced against my will to use Spotify originally and then I started using it and I have to say I love the fact that I can discover new artists and go back and do my homework on the old songs. Like, as a tool for that and a tool for promotion it’s great. Artists have to be thinking on their toes and embrace things like Spotify, not really as a money making tool but as a social and promotional tool.”


Well, that’s the opinion from the other side of our earphones! We here at Motley love Spotify. We just can’t get enough of those nifty playlists.