For years now, streaming services like Spotify have faced criticism about how much they pay the artists whose music they depend on. It’s a nuanced situation, so on The Daily Show last night, Trevor Noah broke it down and spoke about how hard it is on make money on Spotify as a non-major artist.
After sharing a compilation of news clips that charted the music industry’s shift from CDs to digital downloads to streaming, Noah got into it, starting by calling streaming “the best thing to happen to the music industry since the government created LSD.” He then noted, though, that while streaming services have “arguably saved music,” they’re “not exactly sharing the wealth.”
Noah shared more video clips, ones illustrating how little artists get paid when their songs get streamed. Then, Noah got into Spotify specifically, giving them credit for providing smaller artists with valuable exposure. He went on to point out, though, that regardless of who subscribers listen to, a hefty portion of their money still goes to major artists. As Noah put it, “Even if you are way too cool to listen to the top ten artists on Spotify, they still get most of your money. And the bands that you do listen to get almost none of it.”
Noah concluded by noting, “For now, maybe the most important things for artists to do is get the word out to their fans.” Then, he introduced Aloe Blacc, who has been vocal about issues with streaming music since he earned just $4,000 from streaming for Avicii’s international hit “Wake Me Up,” which he co-wrote. For The Daily Show, Blacc wrote and performed a new version of his “I Need A Dollar,” with lyrics modified to directly address Spotify and streaming problems.
Watch the whole segment above or find just Blacc’s performance below.