Digital music streaming revenues are reported to be going up year-on-year, however, music artists (generally speaking) complain about lower earnings directly from sales (streams) of their music. During some of my duties with the Music Development Foundation, while interacting with music artists, I realised that with music in the Internet age, artists (most) barely make money from music streaming platforms.

What’s happening?

Once I read the book Spotify Teardown - Inside The Black Box of Streaming Music (published by the MIT Press. It is written by Maria Eriksson, Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Pelle Snickars, and Patrick Vonderau.), I got a better understanding of why this is the case. Especially when I came to better understand the close relationship that Spotify, the largest music streaming platform by paying subscriber numbers, has with the three largest music record labels - Warner Music, Sony Music, and Universal Music.

With over 100 million paying subscribers, Spotify is no more a startup but a big multinational business. With such a size comes politics and all sorts of other dynamics.

For these reasons. it was refreshing that this book is written in a matter-of-fact style which gets to the crux of the topic without meandering around it. The style of writing becomes understandable once you learn that the book is written by researchers who used various methods, including reverse engineering and bots, to learn more about Spotify’s inner workings.

Besides the style of writing and the methods they used to get more data and information on Spotify, it was good to read them sharing their biases and also write about where they were wrong, something not many non-fiction authors are willing to admit and share.

For me, having tracked music streaming for over half a decade and continuing to work on projects in that industry, some of the revelations were already known but it was good to have hard evidence and facts to back them up.

In summary, the book tells a story of how Spotify is not what it says it is, it is actually more like Facebook, an advertising and user data driven company. The book details almost exactly how Spotify actually works.

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