Taylor Swift vs Spotify: What you need to know about the fight over profits from music streaming

Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America" at Times Square on Oct 30, 2014, in New York City. Taylor Swift says Spotify does not pay singers and songwriters fairly. Spotify says it has paid them US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion) and a star
Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America" at Times Square on Oct 30, 2014, in New York City. Taylor Swift says Spotify does not pay singers and songwriters fairly. Spotify says it has paid them US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion) and a star at Swift's level may be paid more than US$6 million a year. -- PHOTO: AFP

Taylor Swift says Spotify does not pay singers and songwriters fairly. Spotify says it has paid them US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion) and a star at Swift's level may be paid more than US$6 million a year. Swift's label says Spotify has paid her far less than that in the past year.

Who is right and who is wrong in the fight over music streaming? Here are the key points and numbers of the debate, so you can decide for yourself.

1. How much is Spotify, the world's biggest streaming outlet, paying the industry?

Swift: After pulling her catalogue from Spotify last week, the American pop star called streaming "a grand experiment", which she feels does not compensate creators of music fairly, said Yahoo! website.

Spotify: The Swedish music portal pays as little as 0.6 US cents per stream, according to The New York Times. On Spotify's blog on Tuesday, its chief executive Daniel Ek said it had paid US$1 billion to the industry "from the time we started Spotify in 2008 to last year" and another US$1 billion since then.

 2. How much is Swift, one of the biggest pop stars, being paid by Spotify?

Swift: Her label Big Machine said it was paid US$496,044 for United States streams of her songs in the past year, of which only a portion was from Spotify, reported Time magazine.

Spotify: According to Ek, the streaming outlet's subscriber base is growing - 50 million users around the world now, of whom 12.5 million are subscribers paying US$10 a month - and it is "on track" to pay big stars like Swift more than US$6 million a year.

Spotify later explained the US$6 million figure to Time. A spokesman for the outlet did not dispute Big Machine's US$496,044 figure, but said Swift had been paid US$2 million for global streams of her songs in the past year.

Global head of communications Jonathan Prince said the rates for stars had risen more than 50 per cent in the past year, with the rise in the number of subscribers. He said Swift's label and publisher were paid about US$500,000 "in the month before she took her catalogue down" - which would add up to about US$6 million in 12 months, maybe more, if she had left her songs on the portal.

 3. Does Spotify hurt music?

Swift: She thinks so. Speaking to Yahoo!, she said she did not agree with the business model of streaming outlets such as Spotify, which has free and paid services. She did not like "perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free".

Her label said it asked Spotify not to release her music on its free service, but it refused. Speaking on radio, the chief of her label said it did not wish to embarrass her followers. "If this fan went and purchased the record, CD, iTunes, whatever, and then their friends go, 'Why did you pay for it? It's free on Spotify.' We're being completely respectful to that superfan who wants to invest, who believes in their favourite artist."

Spotify: The outlet maintains that its model - giving users a free service with ads, then enticing them to subscribe to a paid service without ads - is a better alternative to piracy.