First, Taylor Swift and her management pulled the singer's music from Spotify over claims of paltry royalty payments. Then Spotify struck back stating it handed out $1 billion in royalties to labels in 2014 alone, with Swift on track to bag $6 million from the service for the next 12 months (should her label keep its fingers out of her takings).
Now, in round three of the battle over the value of streaming services, Scott Borchetta (CEO of Big Machine, Swift's label) claims Swift didn't even make $500,000 from domestic streams of her music in the past 12 months.
Borchetta's figures ignore international takings, but with the US Swift's biggest market, it does throw into question Spotify's numbers. $500,000 sounds like a lot (and would be quite the haul for many of Spotify's smaller artists), but Swift is one of the biggest pop stars of our time, with her latest 1989 album enjoying the largest sales week of any record since 2002.
Whether it's labels lining their own pockets within the brave new world of streaming services, or Spotify's stream values not yet capable of matching either download or physical sales' worth, one thing is for certain -- being a musician these days probably means you need to take on a second McJob too.
Update: Jonathan Prince, Spotify's global head of communications and public policy, offered this statement:
The more we grow, the more we pay artists, and we’re growing like crazy. Our users, both free and paid, have grown by more than 50 per cent in the last year, which means that the run rate for artists of every level of popularity keeps climbing. And Taylor just put out a great record, so her popularity has grown too. We paid Taylor’s label and publisher roughly half a million dollars in the month before she took her catalogue down—without even having 1989 on our service—and that was only going to go up.