Artists Are Blasting Spotify Over “Tone-Deaf” ‘Dance Like Nobody’s Paying’ Ad

"This ad rings like a taunt from a schoolyard bully."

Spotify Controversy Dance Like Nobody's Paying Ad photo

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Artists are slamming Spotify over a new “tone-deaf” advertising campaign suggesting streamers “dance like nobody’s paying”, taking offence considering the long-standing argument over the rates the streaming giant pays artists.

The advert campaign is encouraging users to sign up for Spotify’s paid, ad-free premium subscription service by centring that it’s free for the first 30 days. The ad first picked up traction last week after US musician, producer and label head Blake Morgan called it out on Twitter.

Here’s @Spotify’s new tone-deaf ad campaign,” he wrote. “Keep in mind that it takes 380,000 streams a month on @Spotify for an artist to earn minimum wage. Meanwhile, the average @Spotify employee earns $14,000 a month. Nobody’s paying? We musicians are, with our lives.”

Morgan’s tweet quickly caught on, as he was the founder of #IRespectMusic, a campaign attempting to ensure have US radio stations pay artists for streams, as the US is the only democratic country in the world where artists don’t get paid for radio airplay.

As per Variety, it takes an average of 336,842 streams of an act to generate US $1472, the nation’s monthly minimum wage. The streaming giant has long been under fire for its payments to artists; famously, Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift both held-out on releasing their music on the service for years as a form of protest.

Rates shift for different artists under different contracts, but it’s understood that the giant on average pays around $0.003 per stream, behind Apple Music’s $0.0045 but ahead of YouTube’s $0.002.

Recently, Spotify attempted to appeal a US court decision to increase songwriter rates by 44 percent by 2023, and last year asked several publishers for an undisclosed amount of money back after claiming they had overpaid them on fees. 2018 was the first year in Spotify’s history the company’s books were in the black, reaching a €94 million profit with 96 million premium subscribers worldwide.

Prolific songwriter David Poe also shared his thoughts in a blog post, saying that “sometimes big corporations slip up and show us what they really think of us, and this was one of those times”.  Elsewhere, industry figures such ECR Music Group executive VP Amy Gardner expressed their disbelief over the ad, and more artists said it felt like “a taunt from a schoolyard bully”.

Spotify has not addressed the response, and Music Junkee has reached out for comment.