Ed Sheeran: “Spotify is paying the right amount” (and why Taylor Swift is different)

ed sheeranA-list recording artist Ed Sheeran offered counterpoint to recent Spotify-bashing which has become something like a music industry sport. Backstage at the BBC Music Awards, Sheeran said his career wouldn’t be possible without Spotify, as reported by BBC News:

“I’m playing sold-out gigs in South America, I’ve sold out arenas in Korea and south-east Asia. I don’t think I’d be able to do that without Spotify. I think Spotify are paying the right amount.”

As other musicians have occasionally pointed out (see Billy Bragg here), the artists’ revenue problem, when there is one, can be more about the record label contract than the streaming service.

“The labels aren’t making as much as they used to, so they want to keep a lot of the money that Spotify give them, and not pay it out to us. Which is the truth. It is the truth.”

That punchy quote leads Sheeran to value live concerts for their earning power, as opposed to streaming distribution for its promotional power. “I get [the profits from] all my ticket sales, so I’d rather tour.”

Sheeeran commented on Taylor Swift’s hugely publicized withdrawal from Spotify, marking her as generationally different: “Taylor has been around for eight or nine years. She comes from an era where you do sell records […] Whereas I came through in the streaming generation. All my fans started off being students at university file-sharing my music, so it’s a different generation.”

Brad Hill