Spotify vs. Swift: When talkin’ royalties, you can’t compare apples with oranges

Spotify vs. Swift: When talkin’ royalties, you can’t compare apples with oranges

The public spat between Spotify and Taylor Swift shows no signs of dying down any time soon.

The debacle kicked off earlier this month when the pop star pulled her entire catalog from the music-streaming service, apparently because she believes her music shouldn’t be given away on ad-supported services that users don’t pay for.

The latest installment in the saga revolves around a little tête-à-tête between Spotify and Scott Borchetta, CEO of Taylor Swift’s record label Big Machine.

On the one hand, Spotify says that Swift’s record label has earned around $2 million in royalties over the past 12 months, but this is in stark contrast to Borchetta’s claims that this figure was less than $500,000.

Borchetta’s claim of $500,000 was seemingly in response to a broader figure revealed by Spotify, that artists of Swift’s calibre could expect to rake in somewhere in the region of $6 million a year. It was a mere projection and, not only that, it was based on a global outlook. Borchetta’s amount was based on what has already been paid out this past year – in the US only.

In a report yesterday, Time says:

“According to Borchetta, the actual amount his label has received in return for domestic streams of Swift’s music—$496,044—is drastically smaller than the amount Spotify has suggested the artist receives.”

No it isn’t. It just isn’t. Spotify only ever said that artists like Swift “are on track to exceed $6 million a year,” if Time is referring to this $6 million figure. Alternatively, if it’s referring to the retrospective $2 million, well, as we’ve established already, Spotify is talking in global terms, not just the US.

Regardless of what side of the debate you sit on, you can’t compare apples with oranges when looking at these numbers. By comparing the actual amount received from a single market with a global perspective, this needlessly muddies the waters and leads to all kinds of confused headlines.

This gives us an interesting glimpse into where Swift’s royalties were coming from internationally. By looking at both Spotify’s and Borchetta’s figures, it’s clear that only 25 percent of Swift’s Spotify revenue emanates from the US, so any discussion on the matter – particularly in relation to hard-dollar amounts – has to look at the bigger picture.

Apples can only be compared with apples, after all.

Feature image credit – Shutterstock

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