Bono Defends Spotify, Calling for Music Industry Transparency - Rolling Stone
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Bono Defends Spotify: ‘Let’s Experiment. Let’s See What Works’

“I’m a spoiled rock star,” the singer says. “I’m the wrong spokesperson for this, but if I were starting a band now, aged 17 or 18, I would be very excited”


Bono at the 2014 Web Summit on November 6th, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. The U2 singer defended Spotify and other streaming music services.

Tristan Fewings/Getty

The same week that Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify and called the music-streaming service a “grand experiment,” Bono has voiced his support of the service using the same word as Swift. “It’s an experimental period,” the U2 frontman said at the Web Summit conference in Dublin, according to The Guardian. “Let’s experiment. Let’s see what works.”

The singer explained that in his opinion, the enemy was not Spotify, but music-industry standards and practices. “When people pick on Spotify: Spotify are giving up 70 percent of all their revenues to rights owners,” he said. “It’s just that people don’t know where the money is because the record labels haven’t been transparent.”

Bono expounded on this idea elsewhere in the talk. “The music business has historically involved itself in quite considerable deceit,” he said. “But if we change that a bit, and people can actually see how many times [songs are] 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.”

Over the past couple of years, a number of artists have decried Spotify’s royalty payments, calling them unfair, including the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, David Byrne and Radiohead and Atoms for Peace frontman Thom Yorke.

“I think artists should be paid way more than they are,” Bono said. “But the greatest way you serve your songs is to get them heard.”

In the U2 frontman’s opinion, services like Spotify are most beneficial to artists starting out. “I’m already paid too much,” Bono said. “I’m a spoiled rock star. I’m the wrong spokesperson for this, but I have to tell you: if I were starting a band now, aged 17 or 18, I would be very excited…. Though it is clear that there are some traumas as we move from physical to digital and 20th century to 21st century, and the people paying the highest price for those traumas are songwriters rather than performers, I still think forming a band is so exciting.”

Earlier this week, Swift shared many opposing sentiments in an interview with Yahoo. “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music,” she said. “And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

After Swift pulled her catalog, Spotify issued a statement expressing hope that the pop star would change her mind and reinstate her music on the service. “We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy,” the statement read. “That’s why we pay nearly 70% of our revenue back to the music community.”

In This Article: Bono, Spotify, U2


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