“I Removed My Music From Spotify”- Why Artists Are Stepping Away

They could definitely improve their Kings model. But then YouTube and all the others can…

Steve Cuban

Scott Diaz

Scott Diaz is a British DJ/Producer/Remixer who releases labels like Defected, Simma Black, Armada Deep, Large Music etc. He has moved his tag catalog to Bandcamp and removed it from Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Pandora (with a couple of exceptions for collaboration).

What are your criticisms of Spotify?

I must state that I am not against broadcasting as a concept or idea. The comfort is great. But the royalty rates paid to artists are very poor.

The only way you can try to circumvent this as a label is to edit the volume – i.e. if each release achieves an X amount, and you build the vision with consistent “off the shelf” versions, then the more catalog you create, the bigger the monthly return should be, which can be You then get 50% of it as a classifier. But I am strongly against the “size game”. There is already a lot of mediocre music and this whole approach belittles a lack of quality control, a lack of artistic intent and a lot of other things that are just immediate red flags for me.

It’s way too stacked in favor of big companies. Platforms like this were meant to democratize the music industry and make it fairer. They should remove the free account, for starters. If they cared about artists and compensation, they would, but they don’t. They’re interested in taking the artist/fan relationship and putting an ad for Mercedes Bang right in the middle of it.

What is the alternative?

The alternative is to build a more engaged fan base of loyal listeners and true fans who want to support what you’re doing in a tangible way, whether it’s via Traxsource, Bandcamp, Patreon, or another platform. I think we have to accept the fact that this listener base is much smaller, but I’ve made the argument several times that “what’s the point of broadcasting or listening in isolation if the relationship doesn’t continue from there?” I think we need to continue to have a conversation about the streaming royalties and the disparity between Daniel Ek’s net worth and the reality of the 98% of the artists whose music is on his platform.

We all need to ask ourselves, “What is the difference between a passive listener of a playlist (relaxation experience) and someone who actively interacts with your music?” I may sound ungrateful here, but I don’t classify listeners (in that sense) as fans. I think there is an important distinction. I’d like to see a shift where not all of us are willing to give our music free in the name of an unmeasurable “show.”

Perhaps then, listeners may have to work a little harder to find the music they like, and then really engage in the art a little more. Maybe it’s just thinking on my behalf but you have a higher chance of these people becoming real fans, you know, spending real money with you.

Steve Cuban

Producer and DJ Steve Cuban was half of uber-downtempo-ists’ Fila Brazillia as well as recording them as Solid Doctor, The Cutler, and (as a third) Abraham’s Heights. He has made the decision to remove his Déclassé brand from Spotify.

Why did you remove your label music from Spotify?

I wanted to know if more traffic/customers made their way to my Bandcamp portal and invested in my business directly. I had read about a popular artist in the US who did this and saw it happen and wanted to know if it applied to my situation. I’ve also started to consider if the ubiquity of streaming has removed some aspects of the “magic” that I wouldn’t mind finding hard to find again. Or find out for that matter. Like buried treasure.

They could definitely improve their Kings model. But then YouTube and all the others can. They all take urine. Soundcloud made the right sounds and moved to a more conceptually fairer model but so far I haven’t seen any sign that others are following suit.

I’m in a better position as an owner/operator than many artists as I don’t have a label to split anything with to loosen the bonus further.

What is the alternative?

“You can find me at Bandcamp.” This is the only track name I’ve put on streaming services this year. A fan suggestion I thought would be a somewhat entertaining way to prove a point. But setting aside Bandcamp is my favorite platform since I’ve been dealing directly with fans since 2014.

Show all works streamed or downloaded in all formats and also sell all physical goods through that portal. Vinyl crowdfunding has been added to their services and I’ve also had four successful campaigns in the past 12 months with them.

How do you see this situation between artists/posters and Spotify development?

Expecting anything in these trying times seems like a reckless task. I know streaming is slowing down according to industry reports and bigger brands are looking into starting their own services. The response to Spotify seems to be increasing. The fact that you did an article is proof of that. It will be interesting to see where they are in a year or so.

In Part Two, coming next month, we talk to more artists who are rejecting the Spotify model. In Part Three, in March, we’ll look at the artists, brands, and publishers who are already doing Spotify for them.

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author Harold Heath
January 20 2022

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