Is Music streaming legalized theft with no ethical basis to subscribe?

Below is a humorous Daily Show explanation of music streaming. Aloe Blacc had a #1 song in 2019 for which he made a grand total of $4000 domestically. A far cry from the aforementioned My Sharona Heiress who has lived off that one song for 40 years. At the end of the video Aloe does a funny version of his “I Need A Dollar” aimed at Spotify.

Using Spotify as an example, apparently only $2 of our subscription fee goes to the artists. And when you listen to your favorite artist, they are not directly compensated for your patronage. Instead the royalty goes into one massive pot and is then divided up amongst all other artists on a given service based upon how many streams they have. When you listen to Norah Jones, Drake gets paid. In fact, our monthly subscription fee pays enumerable artists we’ve never listen to at all.

Streaming is lucrative enough for the streaming services and record labels, but complete murder for any artist not at the Drake level.

The artists clearly need a union in order to collectively bargain.

I’ve reached the conclusion that music streaming is legalized theft for which there is no ethical basis to subscribe.


I believe that’s the same model for all of them no Aristis gets paid directly off their albums/tracks. The bigger artists however get bigger slices of that pie. The percentage of the sub that goes is what changes per service but given Qobuz and Tidal don’t have that many users in comparison it doesn’t really make much difference.

It somehow feels wrong, but if you have a total of income from fees and necessarily split it up based on the number of streams per artist, that’s what always happens however you do the calculation.


I think all Spotify subscribers should be arrested and charged with aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise. Then, the state should create a high commission to review and set a base level of streaming compensation, one that is fair and ethical according to real experts in the field. That same commission will listen to artists’ output and award differential pay where justified. At the end of each fiscal year, Spotify shall turn over any excess profits to be applied to feed and house those artists unable to attract an audience.

Phase II of the commission’s efforts will be aimed at eliminating booing, negative reviews, and other discouraging “triggers” that do not provide a nuturing environment for musicians.

In time and over time, the result will be a fair, just and ethical music industry, one that is sorely needed.


The “High Commission” will of course need an additional oversight committee based in Monaco with a fleet of private aircraft at their disposal to quickly respond to any reports of starving artists.


The world needs people like you. What an intelligent and thoughtful proposition.


Seems like we still have a supply chain shortage of satire appreciation😉


The music industry including streaming companies have one huge advantage over musicians. They know that no matter what, musician’s will continue to create music because musicians can’t stop. It’s who they are. Most musicians don’t live to create music, they create music to live. And until musicians are willing to band together and say no more new music until we get paid fairly, nothing will change.


The only solution for musicians is a Union. Hollywood actors and writers are on strike now over this very issue, streaming compensation. The vast majority of actors and writers are far from wealthy.

The record labels will never be fair of their own accord. And musicians have a much worse deal than Hollywood.


The vast majority of people are not wealthy. Are actors and writers much more deserving of large amounts of wealth than the fellow that collects the rubbish?
The plumber and police man? School bus driver has a large responsibility, I’ve never met a wealthy one. Odd how our society puts value on some professions and devalues others that are actually quite important to society.


My point was only that unionization gives our mostly not wealthy plumbers, policeman, actors, writers, musicians etc the capacity to collectively bargain to hopefully right egregious imbalances.

The streaming situation with music - given this is a music centric forum hence the focus on music - is grossly out of balance. They should fight.


The recording artist should be able to remove their music any platform that doesn’t serve their interests………If they signed a contract that stipulates that. If they haven’t protected themselves it’s a tough deal unfortunately. Hopefully going forward artists will be careful to avoid being taken advantage of.
On the other hand, how many artists are on digital platforms today that never would have any chance if we were in the vinyl days. Professional studios, cut lacquer, press setup, manufacturing cost, distribution network, brick and mortar stores vs computer, ableton, mom’s basement. I’m thinking it’s much easier to put out music these days. What’s your opinion about this?

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Edit: If the above post is tongue in cheek, a wind up ignore the below :man_shrugging:

Someone better come and arrest me, my wife and my 3 kids then :policewoman::man_police_officer::police_car:. My kids are 10 and 6.

@John_V while I appreciate your view is only your view. It’s a very poor view.

Even if, if Spotify are implicit in illigal activities there is no proof of this. If there is and a conviction from the proof then no subscriber can be arrested of your accusations. 210 million subscribers is it. Quite an angry mob if arrests were to happen.

Will you be judge and executioner?

No evidence or proof makes your remark dangerous, hurtful and to be honest quite silly of you.

I wonder if any of the Roon staff subscribe to Spotify.

I wonder if any of your other fellow Roon users use Spotify.

Shame on you sir. Shame on you. :face_with_raised_eyebrow::pensive:

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I’m sure they could, but it’s to no bargaining advantage unless it’s done collectively in mass. One artist, even a major one, will not fix the issue. They must all do it together. Effectively going on strike. Then the labels and streaming services must listen to their demands for fairness.

Yes, it’s easier to get music out these days. But if there’s drastically unfair compensation, the music and musicians will unduly suffer.


To answer the question in the threads title.


Artists sign up to record labels and it’s highly unlikely they aren’t aware of their T&C’s and that streaming services exist with a poor ROI.

I’m all for artists getting more money. There are many in this forum that purchase physical media and digital downloads from good websites such as Bandcamp. When money allows I try my best.

There are many who love music but cannot afford owning vast physical music libraries. £10 to £15/month to some is a lot. To some more privileged it isn’t.

I subscribe to Qobuz and Spotify. Spotify for ease and availability of music. Spotify for my wife and kids to enjoy music. Qobuz for me.

Those who purchase secondhand music, is that theft? We aren’t paying the artist, the rights owner of the music.


Lighten up. Pretty sure @John_V posted tongue in cheek.

See Jonathan Swift’s modest proposal.


Hold on, no tar and feathering? Aw shucks :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Spotify are by far the worst offenders but unless musicians get together to strip their music from the app nothing will change. Daniel Eck is completely without principles.

May I suggest that everyone learns a little about the history of recorded music.

Before there were recordings (thank you Thomas Edison) musicians made their money via live performance and, if you were lucky enough to be a composer, from the sales of sheet music.

When records and wax cylinders came along the death of music was predicated. Rather than kill music records made some musicians quite wealthy.

Radio was also predicated to be the death of music and at first only live, in the studio music was allowed to be broadcast. Once recordings were allowed to play on the radio rather than kill music records made some musicians quite wealthy.

Next came MP3s and Napster. Again the death of music was predicated. Apple started selling music and made lots of money.

Now there’s music streaming and musicans are back to making their living the old fashioned way via live performance.

I don’t make the rules but I try to play by them and right now the rules say that music streaming is okay so I stream music.

For what it’s worth, I always thought that it was rather unfair for me, the consumer, to have keep paying for the same music over and over each time a new and “improved” format was introduced. First for the vinyl, then for the CD, then for the SACD and then for the file download, especially when the original artist was dead. No thank you sir, I’ll gladly pay for the music streaming subscription and keep my money, thank you.