Billy Bragg hits back at musicians' criticism of Spotify

The singer calls on artists to fight labels not streaming services over low rates

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The Independent Culture

Billy Bragg has criticised artists who slam online music streaming services like Spotify, suggesting their attacks are unhelpful to the industry.

Currently on tour in Sweden, the singer-songwriter has encouraged musicians to adapt to rising demand for the services by pushing their record labels for higher royalty rates.

In a message on his Facebook page, the 55-year old left-wing activist called on artists to direct their anger over “paltry sums” towards labels.

"I’ve long felt that artists railing against Spotify is about as helpful to their cause as campaigning against the Sony Walkman would have been in the early ‘80s,” he wrote.

“As artists, we have to adapt ourselves to their behaviour, rather than try to hold the line on a particular mode of listening to music. If the rate were really so bad, the rights holders - the major record companies - would be complaining.”

“The fact that they’re continuing to sign up means they must be making good money,” he said.

Last month, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called Spotify “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”, claiming that it benefits record labels while failing the musicians behind the service.

After pulling his latest band Atoms For Peace’s album from the library, Yorke tweeted: “Make no mistake, new artists you discover on Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile, shareholders will shortly be rolling in it. Simples.”

Placebo’s Brian Molko came out in support of Yorke’s hardline view of Spotify’s business model, saying: “I don’t think it’s got anything to do with fighting piracy or providing a service that’s good for the music industry and for new bands.

“They are just interested in making money at the expense of others. It comes from a place of just pure profit-making on their part.”

Defending their popular service, a statement from the Swedish-based company read: “Our goal is to grow a service which people love, ultimately want to pay for, and which will provide the financial support to the music industry necessary to invest in new talent and music.

“We’ve already paid $500m to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach £1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music.”