DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish rocker Bono has defended Spotify from criticism it pays too little to people who create music, saying digital music streaming services are opening up new ways for musicians to reach their public.
“I see streaming services as quite exciting ways to get to people. In the end, that’s what we want for U2 songs,” the U2 lead singer said on Thursday at a Web Summit conference.
His comments came the same week that U.S. singer Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalog from the popular streaming site Spotify as she released her new album “1989” that immediately soared to the top of the U.S. charts.
Swift’s label Big Machine has declined to comment on why it had asked for Swift’s albums to be removed from Spotify, a free service that also offers subscription fees to users who want to eliminate advertising.
But in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal in July, Swift wrote that music was valuable and “it’s my opinion that music should not be free”.
Bono, while not referring directly to Swift, defended Spotify, which he said pays out 70 percent of its revenues to record labels.
“The real enemy is not between digital downloads or streaming. The real enemy, the real fight is between opacity and transparency. The music business has historically involved itself in quite considerable deceit,” Bono said.
“But if we change that bit, and people can actually see how many times they’re being played, where they’re being played, get access to information on the people who are listening to them, get paid direct debit ... I think those payments will add up to something, as the world gets more transparent.”
He also defended U2’s decision to give away its latest album, “Songs of Innocence”, as a free download on iTunes.
The move backfired when many iTunes users complained that the album was consuming memory space or thought they may have been charged for it.
“We got a lot of people who were uninterested in U2 to be mad with U2. And I would call that an improvement in the relationship,” Bono said.
Reporting by Conor Humphries; Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Crispian Balmer