Musicians outraged as Spotify CEO claims the "cost of creating content" is "close to zero": "Our albums took hundreds of hours of human effort, hard work and creativity"

Daniel Ek
(Image credit: TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)

Musicians and music fans have hit back at Spotify CEO Daniel Ek this weekend after the head of the Swedish streaming giant shared a post on Twitter/X claiming that the "cost of creating content" is "close to zero". 

"Today, with the cost of creating content being close to zero, people can share an incredible amount of content. This has sparked my curiosity about the concept of long shelf life versus short shelf life," said Ek in a post shared May 29. "While much of what we see and hear quickly becomes obsolete, there are timeless ideas or even pieces of music that can remain relevant for decades or even centuries." 

"For example, we’re witnessing a resurgence of Stoicism, with many of Marcus Aurelius’s insights still resonating thousands of years later," Ek continued. "This makes me wonder: what are the most unintuitive, yet enduring ideas that aren’t frequently discussed today but might have a long shelf life? Also, what are we creating now that will still be valued and discussed hundreds or thousands of years from today?"

Ek's oddly philosophical post provoked fierce reactions across social media, with many questioning his claim that making music requires little to no financial investment, pointing to the considerable costs of instruments, equipment and education, in addition to the time involved in the creative process.

"I created my Grammy-nominated album on a cross-country train, completely produced and mixed it myself," said New Age artist Cheryl B. Engelhardt. "I was able to do that because of the thousands of $$ spent on quality sounds, my education, my gear, etc. Please get a clue and maybe talk to REAL musicians."

"Our albums did NOT cost 'close to zero' to create although you pay us zero for making money off them," added @_Traviata, manager of Welsh folk duo Songdog. "These took hundreds of hours of human effort, hard work and creativity. Our art is not your fucking 'content'."

"Even at the most basic level you need a DAW and VSTs," said @JonTInfinity. "No one can do a decent mixdown without owning decent monitor speakers or paying someone to do it. Those are the most basic costs and it's still a fair amount for most. Then on top of that some of us have instruments as well."

"The cost of creating content is not close to zero, you just want to frame it that way so that you can pay as close to zero for it as possible," added @edzitron. 

Spotify announced record profits of over €1bn in Q1 2024, following a year marked by cost-cutting and layoffs. Late last year, Ek announced that Spotify would axe 1500 jobs, cutting 17% of its global workforce.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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