Canadian singer Esthero joins other musicians and groups like Vulfpek who have found a way (or at least tried) to circumvent Spotify's notoriously low royalty payments to make a living wage. As the BBC points out,
"Fans streaming the new single by pop singer Esthero have discovered it's been deliberately doctored to protest against Spotify's royalty rates.
Ninety seconds into Gimme Some Time, the music dips, and Esthero explains the full version of the song will only be available on her website.
The money Spotify generates is "really not a liveable income," she explains.
"I really hope you enjoy my music enough to actually go and support and buy the song from me."
The BBC didn't bother to add the part where Esthero directs you to her website to download the song, so I will add her link. And I will add it a second time, too.
This isn't the first time an artist has shall we say intervened with the listener. Back in 2003 Madonna rightly knew that torrents and other sites would take a chunk out of her livelihood. So when she "leaked" American Life, it was actually a trolling message demanding to know "What the fuck do you think you're doing," which is why I will forever love her. But people didn't listen then which is why Spotify appeared as the wolf in sheep's clothing to dole out a pittance to musicians, masquerading as a legitimate business. A legitimate business who constantly has to settle lawsuits from the very people it depends on to keep its service going.
While Madge was typically on brand with her chutzpah, Esthero's message was more refined and heartfelt about it, explaining why it's important to support artists. Most people have no idea that if they use Spotify's free service very little money goes to the musicians they love, just as the majority of people have no idea that even if they use the paid service, it's not a one-for-one payment system. So even if you support Esthero by listening to her stuff hundreds of times, that money is pooled to other artists. So it's unfair on countless levels.
Meanwhile, as people finally wake up to the so-called gig economy only exiting to benefit the corporations (meet the new boss, worse than the old boss) more and more musicians are hopefully coming to the conclusion that playing a gig is one thing, but adding their songs to the gig economy is not paying. Good for Esthero for speaking out.
We'll see how long Spotify takes before they pull the song for "violating their terms of service," or whatever reason they make up. Because if it's one thing Spotify is really bad at, it's getting musicians and singers and bandmates on its side. No, not fake artists it invents so it doesn't have to pay the real ones, but real ones.