Former MEGADETH, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and WHITE LION bassist James LoMenzo 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, ex-DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy and STRYPER‘s Michael Sweet — saying that’s just not how the creative process works.
Asked in a new interview with “That Jamieson Show With Don Jamieson” for his take on Ek‘s comments, LoMenzo said (hear audio below): “Fuck him! Right away. God, if he gets into a room with any one of us, man, he’s not gonna be very happy about it. This is gluttonous. He should be in jail with [infamous financier and Ponzi swindler] Bernard Madoff. He’s robbing us all blind. And you know what? There was no way out of it.”
He continued: “I know everybody enjoys the convenience of MP3s — I do — but the point is that we used to be able to take months and months, if not a year or two years, and if it took five years, we could sit there and make a piece of art for people that would last forever. You wonder why music is turning so disposable. It’s part of this consciousness of just, you know, music’s just… it’s for the moment.
“You and I grew up in a time where we would have an album and that would be our life for a month,” James added. “And then we’d carry that with us for the rest of our lives. This kind of business model is cheating people out of that experience, and it’s propelling people past the art of it, which is, sadly, where we’re ending up.
“You can only rebel so much — I mean, if popular taste wants that, that’s fine — but exacerbating it through greed, I don’t really think that’s a noble pursuit, unless you’re greedy.”
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.