Spotify and Penny Per Stream Royalties: Is the Cure Worse for Artists Than the Disease?

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 Steve Jobs created the music industry’s long-standing basic economics. Now Congress’ new proposed bill may actually hurt, not help, artists

Spotify and music streams
(Chris Smith/TheWrap)

Spotify just reported that it paid out $9 billion in artist royalties in 2023 — an impressive number to be sure, but one that still fails to satisfy artists frustrated by long-standing sub-$.01 per stream royalty rates that many in the music industry believe devalues music.

It was Steve Jobs two decades ago who essentially framed music streaming’s fundamental economics when he set the price to download Apple’s songs at $.99 and albums at $9.99, a steep discount from the $13-$19 cost of physical CDs at the time. The price level was meant to give consumers a legitimate alternative to Napster’s outright peer-to-peer (P2P)  theft. 

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