Thieving and Streaming? Spotify Paid Gaga Just $167 for a Million Spins of "Poker Face"

The new song streaming service taking the internet by storm might be a bad deal for the people writing the songs.

Spotify, the Swedish-owned music streaming service that took Europe by storm before recently landing in America, is being heralded on Twitter and music blogs as a wonderful addition to any music fan's life. But it turns out it might be a different story for the musicians themselves.

In the past week alone, two independent music labels, Century Media Records and Mode Records, have decided to pull their music from Spotify, claiming that the streaming service is paying them far too little to make the deal fair (about a third of a penny per song). In a blog post explaining why he ended his relationship with Spotify, Brian Brandt, owner of Mode, wrote that Spotify has "the promise to squeeze smaller labels out of the picture."

On a typical CD sold through a distributor (yes, still the bulk of our sales are wholesale), we may make a profit of $3-4 a unit. Already that is not much considering the total sales of a typical niche CD. Sales through iTunes or similar service can yield a similar profit. But this all gets turned on its head with the Spotify model. For example, in June 2011, Mode had a total of 11,335 streams through Spotify; our income was a whopping $36.98!


According to a similar 2010 claim by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, which represents about 2,000 different songwriters, Spotify pays paltry amounts even for songs from major labels. For instance, BASCA alleged that though Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" was streamed a million times over a five-month period last year, the artist earned only $167 in revenue from the track.

At the time, BASCA chairman Patrick Rackow said the real problem is that Spotify is extremely secretive about the deals it strikes with record labels and music publishers. "At the moment, the amounts of money that are actually being received are tiny," he told the BBC. "That might be because there is no money there. But there is no clear trail that can be established so that the songwriter can trace back what they ought to have got. These things are behind a blanket of secrecy, and that is extremely worrying."

Despite Brandt and BASCA's worrying, a February report (PDF) from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry noted that Spotify is the second-largest source of digital music revenue for European labels, behind only iTunes. So while the service isn't outright stealing from artists, it is stuck trying to figure out how to balance royalty fees with the fact that most of its users are not going to pay the $10 a month fee for a "premium subscription."

In the meantime, Gaga should probably not rely on Spotify to pad her ever-dwindling wig budget.

photo via (cc) Flickr user petercruise


When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less