STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet is the latest musician to take issue with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek's suggestion that artists need to be more prolific in the streaming age.
For years, Spotify has been criticized for offering paltry payouts to musicians and songwriters, with some claiming that the service gives major-label artists an unfair advantage via playlist placement and other promotional avenues.
In an interview published last month, Ek told Music Ally: "Even today on our marketplace, there's literally millions and millions of artists. What tends to be reported are the people that are unhappy, but we very rarely see anyone who's talking about… In the entire existence [of Spotify], I don't think I've ever seen a single artist saying, 'I'm happy with all the money I'm getting from streaming,' stating that publicly. In private, they have done that many times, but in public, they have no incentive to do it. But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself.
"There is a narrative fallacy here, combined with the fact that, obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can't record music once every three to four years and think that's going to be enough," he continued.
"The artists today that are making it realize that it's about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.
"I feel, really, that the ones that aren't doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released," he added.
A number of notable artists have since fired back at Ek over his suggestion that artists need to churn out more content if they want to the same money they used to, with many in the music community — including TWISTED SISTER singer Dee Snider, former SKID ROW frontman Sebastian Bach and ex-DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy — saying that's just not how the creative process works.
Asked in a new interview with Sonic Perspectives for his take on Ek's comments, Sweet said: "I think artists should do whatever they feel led to do. And if that's every year or if that's every 10 years, it's not his place to tell artists what to do. And, unfortunately, he's in a position right now where he's captaining the ship.
"Spotify is pretty much the leading way for music to be heard and be streamed, and artists, as you know, make very little money from all the streaming. The labels are making a little more money, but this guy's getting rich, becoming a multi-millionaire, if not a billionaire. And then he's telling artists how to do things and what they need to do. It's just kind of hypocritical and comical.
"I can't wait until the day comes [when] Spotify is no more," Sweet added. "I'd love to see that day. I'd love to see streaming music be done away with, and for it to get back to some sort of hard copy, whether it's vinyl or CDs again. Because that's the fair way to do things. That's when the artist who is working so hard to create the music is compensated properly."
Last month, Spotify announced its financial results for the second quarter of this year, indicating €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion) in revenues, up 13% year-over-year. Out of the €1.9 billion, €131 million ($154 million) came from advertising while the rest came from subscriptions. Despite increasing revenues, Spotify, however, recorded a sizeable loss of €356 million ($419 million) during the quarter. In the last quarter, Spotify hit a high of 299 million monthly active users, 138 million of whom are paying subscribers via Spotify's premium tier.