Spotify CEO sparks backlash after social media post that claimed the cost of making "content" is "close to zero"

Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify, gestures as he makes a speech at a press conference in Tokyo on September 29, 2016.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek sparked an online backlash after a social media post in which he said the cost of creating "content" is "close to zero".

The boss of the streaming giant said in a post on X: "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. 

"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. 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?"

Music fans and musicians were quick to call Ek out, with one user, composer Tim Prebble, saying: "Music will still be valued in a hundred years. Spotify won't. It will only be remembered as a bad example of a parasitic tool for extracting value from other peoples music. (or "content" as some grifters like to call it)."

Many other X users posted similar criticisms, often referring to the amount of money Spotify pays artists per stream.

Musicians weighed in too, with Primal Scream bassist Simone Marie Butler saying: "Fuck off you out of touch billionaire."

The Future of Music Coalition added: "It actually can still be expensive to make records, especially if you care about paying your collaborators fairly. Many musicians are skilled at cutting corners to accomplish their creative goals within limited budgets.

"And indeed some aspects of production are more affordable than in the past. But this often ends up radically overstated. 'Close to zero?' No."

Streaming accounts for the huge majority of music consumption. Information on how Spotify pays rights holders can be found here.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.