It’s Time For Transparency On Music Streaming Rates


Major labels may be hoping that new-wave digital music jukeboxes can make up for slowing downloads growth. But a drip-drip of labels pulling out of the services in protest at low fees is continuing, and may grow to more than just indies.

The distributor for drum ‘n bass act Blu Mar Ten on Tuesday became the latest to pull its content from streaming services including Spotify, Rdio and Napster, joining Projekt Records, Prosthetic Records, Century Media and Metal Blade Records so far this year.

Consumption through these services is booming. Blu Mar Ten’s distributor says 82 percent of listens to its songs this Q3 was through Spotify, Rdio, Napster and Simfy. But just 2.6 percent of its revenue came from these services. In particular, for 750,000 Spotify streams, it got just £2,500, it says: “We have taken the decision to no longer provide content to any of the above streaming-type music services.”

European royalty collector PRS For Music licenses on-demand digital music operators using a clearly laid-out industry rates structure that, in the UK, requires either 10.5 percent of their gross revenue or 0.085 pence per track streamed.

But, unlike transparent operators like We7, which is only too happy to talk about the rates it pays, every time I have asked whether Spotify is paying industry-standard rates, both Spotify and the industry’s PRS For Music have clammed up, including the latest time I asked just last week. Read the full story at


Discussion5 Comments

  1. Oh I understand what you are saying Steve and respect it. The one bit I do not respect is the non-transparency of the labels and PRS. Quite frankly it is not acceptable in the 21st century it is as simple as that.

    Labels inform your artist what the exact rates are that you pay through in terms of streaming. To not come clean risks tarnishing labels as being the same old crooks … But who knows perhaps that is the label (pun intended) they deserve?

  2. I really think you and other music news sites.. need to understand that the rates are based upon the percentage of plays..compared to the total revenues.. and then its all proportioned out. Its a very basic formula.. Thus it depends a lot of advertising agencies and revenues.

  3. Chris Blu Mar Ten

    Hi Don,

    Sorry to disappoint on the conspiracy theory front.

    Blu Mar Ten is, for historical purposes, 3 people, however Leo has drifted away from the project since having 2 kids and a demanding worklife. The project is now me (Chris) and Michael.
    Indeed a studio in-joke is, (when we occasionally see Leo), to ask him to tell us what our last single was, or to name 3 tracks from the new album, (he can never do any of those things by the way, much to our amusement).

    I can assure you there are no smear tactics. In fact if you check Leo’s (rarely used) Twitter stream you’ll see him happily posting Spotify links…!/leoblumarten/status/68993168896557056

    …or youtube links…!/leoblumarten/status/53011833933668352

    …and if you check the Blu Mar Ten Twitter run by me you will see that I acknowledge that streaming services might suit some labels but probably not labels like ours…!/BluMarTen/status/136782735451758592

    Our social media is is all run by me and me alone and I have no vested interest in anything other than my own music. I have no affiliation to Apple or any other service.

    Our distributor is ST holdings and they made a statement about this today after emailing all the labels about the decision yesterday.

    The update and their decision to leave streaming services was made entirely of their own volition based on their own data, and we only found out about it yesterday. Their label roster runs in excess of 230 and features some heavy-hitting acts. I’d love to think Blu Mar Ten had sufficient influence over such a large company but I’m afraid I’d be lying to myself. We just happened to post the info.

    As it happens I asked the distributor to remove any of the tracks we have control over from streaming services earlier this year, so this whole discussion is of academic interest to us only. It’s probably worth noting that the distributor offered all the labels the option to continue appearing on streaming services but to date, of the 230+ labels, only 4 have opted to continue.

    If it were up to me we’d all go back to wax cylinders and be done with it.

    Hope that clarifies things for you, but if you have any more questions feel free to email me at


    Blu Mar Ten

  4. I think it would be more honest and transparent for Blu Mar Ten, his distributor and this article to make a disclaimer regarding Blu Mar Ten’s relationship with Spotify’s competitors. Namely, that the person behind the Blu Mar Ten artistic moniker is Leo Wyndham who also happens to be European Director for iTunes Music Store.
    It doesn’t completely surprise me that such non-transparent smear tactics are being resorted to by Spotify’s competitors since it’s clear that the streaming service is going to piss all over the rest of them in the next 24 months, worldwide. I just wouldn’t expect that sort of an endorsement coming from a senior executive at Apple.
    Maybe the PR campaign against Spotify is more sinister than we realize…

  5. The 64 tonne Gorilla in the room is the fact their is an explicit conflict of interest with having labels owning shareholdings in a music streaming service that there artist’s receive payouts from.

    Put simply it is in each of the major labels interest to keep Spotify royalty payouts extremely low because it means they win on the back-end when Spotify goes for what is an inevitable IPO.

    But as usual it is the artist that gets screwed. But do not blame Spotify. Blame the labels and PRS for there combined lack of transparency! Old dodgy music business establishment practices seem to be rearing there head…

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