Photo Credit: Esthero

Esthero is protesting Spotify’s low royalty rates paid to artists — by interrupting one of her own tracks on Spotify.

Around a minute and a half into her song ⁠— “Gimme Some Time” ⁠— the music stops. Esthero begins speaking and explains to fans that the full version can be bought on her website.

“Hello there, sweet listener.  So, I really hope you’re enjoying my song.  This is Esthero by the way.  But I hope you’re enjoying it enough to go over to www.esthero.net and purchase the uninterrupted version.”

She goes on to explain that Spotify’s royalty rates don’t offer a livable wage.

“It’s really hard as an independent artist to make money, and Spotify and other streaming services only pay about .003 to .008 cents per stream. It’s really not a livable income.  So once again, I really hope you enjoy my music, and I hope you enjoy it enough to actually go and support and buy the song from me.”

The music continues as Esthero finishes her protest by asking fans to purchase the song from her website.

Fans can pick up the uninterrupted version of “Gimme Some Time” as part of the pre-order for her vinyl.  She’s already generated some buzz from fellow artists on Twitter.  The stunt will also probably help her sell some of her merch she’s hawking, too.  But what she’s saying isn’t wrong.

Based on our own research, Spotify comes in 6th place behind Napster, Tidal, Apple Music, GPM, and Deezer when it comes to royalty payouts.  Only Pandora and YouTube pay less per stream than one of the world’s largest streaming services.  It would take a whopping 336,842 plays to be paid $1,472 ⁠— the U.S. minimum monthly wage.  So we’re with Esthero on this one ⁠— that’s not a livable wage.

It’s not hard to see why Deezer is considering switching to a user-centric payment system.  Most major streaming services are fighting tooth and nail to pay less per stream, thanks partly to business models that don’t seem to be working.  Unfortunately, artists like Esthero typically have limited options beyond streaming when it comes to monetizing their recordings.