Can't stream? Won't stream!

Coldplay have shaken their fans and their record label by becoming the latest big act to refuse to make tracks from their new album available for streaming on Spotify. Adam Sherwin reports on a revolt that is rocking the music industry

If the music industry agreed on one thing – and it rarely does – it was that the web streaming service Spotify was the future for a business ravaged by piracy. But Chris Martin has dealt a possibly fatal blow to that assumption after Coldplay refused to license their new album to Spotify, which now faces a revolt from some big artists.

EMI, Coldplay's record company, is said to be "embarrassed" after it's star act declined to allow Spotify's ten million users to listen to Mylo Xyloto, the band's new album. EMI, whose music division could be sold today in a $1.5bn deal by owners Citgroup, negotiated a deal to license its music to Spotify, in which it also owns a stake of under 2 per cent.

The Swedish-founded, UK-based Spotify has transformed the way music is listened to by fans since its 2008 launch. Spotify lets users stream a catalogue of 15 million songs to their computers and mobile phones through a monthly subscription or listen via an advertising-supported free service.

With CD sales suffering a 40 per cent collapse since 2001, Spotify was hailed as one of a handful of legal digital services which could lure fans from pirate sites and restore industry revenues.

But artists are in revolt after discovering they are receiving few royalties compared with CD sales, despite earning thousands of plays on Spotify. The service pays 0.085p per stream, which is split between the publisher and songwriters.

Coldplay declined to give a reason for their decision but it follows Adele's refusal to place her 21 album on Spotify. She has sold 10 million CDs and downloads this year, defying claims that albums could no longer sell in large volumes.

Tom Waits also joined the rebellion, declining to place his new Bad As Me album on Spotify, Rhapsody, Deezer and the MOG streaming services. Major catalogues such as those of The Beatles and Pink Floyd are also unavailable.

Jazz Summers, manager of The Verve and La Roux, said: "Everyone told La Roux they were listening to her album on Spotify. We looked at her royalties from thousands of plays and she basically got nothing. She said: 'Sod it, I'm taking it off. The royalties are barely enough to pay for a set of guitar strings'."

Spotify, co-founded by Daniel Ek, is valued at $1bn and has just launched a major link-up with Facebook, designed to allow the social network's 800 million users to share music.

With this increasing influence has come "arrogance," Mr Summers said. Spotify executives recently held a meeting with Britain's leading music managers and after making a presentation, refused to take questions. "That went down badly," said Mr Summers.

While snubbing Spotify, Coldplay gave rival iTunes exclusive plays of Mylo Xyloto and is promising those who make a £7.99 purchase on the Apple service a superior sound quality download. Amazon is selling the album, which has sold 150,000 copies so far this week in the UK, for a heavily-discounted £3.99. There have been suggestions that Coldplay want Mylo Xyloto to be listened to as a "cohesive whole" but it is for sale as "unbundled" tracks on iTunes.

EMI said: "We always work with our artists and management on a case-by- case basis to deliver the best outcome."

Company sources said the days of "controlling" where artists like Coldplay sell their music were over and that EMI worked with musicians and managers on collaborative release strategies.

Mark Mulligan, a digital music analyst, said: "Coldplay have made a business decision that they can generate more income and album sales through iTunes and Amazon. That is worth more to them than the widespread exposure to their music that Spotify offers. But few artists have the firepower to dictate terms to their record labels."

Like EMI, other major record labels – Warner, Sony and Universal – also purchased a stake in Spotify and that has become a source of conflict with their artists.

Mr Mulligan said: "Spotify works better for record labels than artists. They are stakeholders so they get a share of joint venture income from every stream, which doesn't have to be shared with their artists." Mr Summers accuses the record companies of "double dipping".

Mr Mulligan believes Spotify should be seen as a "promotional tool" by musicians, who will have to work harder to earn revenue through live performance and songwriting income.

Spotify retains the rights to stream Coldplay's earlier albums and is offering a new single from the new record. "We have strong support from the industry," said a spokesman. "We of course respect the decision of any artist who chooses not to have their music on Spotify.

"We do, however, hope they will change their minds as we believe the Spotify model is adding, and will continue to add, huge value to the music industry."

Despite snaring two million paying subscribers and recording a five-fold increase in revenues last year, Spotify's pre-tax losses rose to £26.5 million, partly due to increased royalties payments.

There are doubts about the long-term viability of its "freemium" model and Spotify has severely restricted the amount of free music listeners can receive.

The artist revolt could escalate, warns the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Patrick Rackow, Basca chairman, said: "It's a great time to be a music fan – there are more sources of music than ever before, most at a click of a button, but this does not mean the artist should feel pressured into being ubiquitously present on all services."

However, musicians could ultimately see the benefit to their bottom line.

A spokesman for Rhapsody said: "With streaming, if someone plays a song a million times, the artist will earn money from that. Music acts could potentially make more money."

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas