Spotify, the UK-based music-streaming platform, is the most recent savior in the never-ending line of record industry saviors. It has a problem, however, and that problem is the so-called “Biggest Band in the World.” Coldplay is not letting Spotify users listen to their new album, Mylo Xyloto, and they are also withholding their music from Rhapsody and other streaming services. Fans will have the purchase the album on iTunes or Amazon if they want to hear it, but that unfortunately leaves a paper trail proving you bought a Coldplay album.
Coldplay aren’t the first artists to withhold their music from streaming services. Adele and Tom Waits both did so with their new LPs, marking what’s become a worrisome trend for record and streaming companies alike. Users either pay a monthly fee for access to platforms like Spotify, or they agree to listen to ads. The streaming services then pay the record labels a small amount every time someone plays a track (CBS reports this is about 0.015 cents on Spotify), and that profit is divvied up into smaller fractions before it ever reaches the artists. Spotify told CBS they aren’t worried, and that they have “convinced millions of consumers to pay for music again.” This may be true, but just because people are paying for music doesn’t mean the artists get to see it. Jazz Summers, manager of British electropop artist La Roux, told the Independent, “Everyone told La Roux they were listening to her album on Spotify. We looked at her royalties from thousands of plays and she basically got nothing. She said: ‘Sod it, I’m taking it off. The royalties are barely enough to pay for a set of guitar strings’.” While Coldplay is just one artist, their new album is sure to be a top-seller and its omission from streaming services will be glaring. Spotify has about 15 million songs available for streaming, but if that number doesn’t steadily increase as new albums are produced, it may be back to the drawing board for anyone concerned with making money off of music.