Lily Allen: Spotify is not the enemy – Tidal may boost pirate sites


The industry debate over ad-supported ‘free’ music (and Tidal’s place within it) continues to rage. Now we have some interesting comments on the subject from a prominent artist – Lily Allen.

But first, a catch-up: as part of their current streaming licence renegotiation, Universal, Sony and Warner are believed to be putting pressure on Spotify to reduce its free offering to fans.

Meanwhile, the majors are also understood to be arranging timed exclusive (‘windowed’) releases on paid-for Spotify alternatives – particularly Apple’s upcoming a la carte streaming service, expected to launch in June.

“Taylor Swift owns her recording rights. Most of us don’t. Yet.”

Lily Allen

Jay Z’s Tidal is another such a premium-only service, which is already benefitting from ‘windowed’ exclusives from artists including Rihanna and Beyonce.

But there is a strong counter argument to this tactic: harm the offering freemium services like Spotify, say some parties, and you’ll push a generation back towards YouTube or, worse, well-known torrent sites.

Lily Allen has now posted a series of tweets on the topic, expressing her concern that Tidal could result in “people swarming back to pirate sites in droves”.

Below you can read a collection of her thoughts on the matter, including her responses to followers who questioned her concerns (‘fan’ questions are underlined).

  • I love Jay Z so much, but TIDAL is soon expensive compared to other perfectly good streaming services. He’s taken the biggest artists & made them exclusive to TIDAL (am i right in thinking this ?), people are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves sending traffic to torrent sites.
  • Up and coming (not yet millionaires) artists are going to suffer as a result. Maybe I’m missing something, and really it’s amazing and will change everything for the better.

[Allen then suggests she wanted to learn more about the service before making up her mind. But the sight of 16 of the world’s richest artists taking equity in Tidal clearly riled her.]

  • I really don’t give a fuck about the music industry, well, I care about a few good eggs that work within it and am grateful to the people who have helped me develop as an artist. My concern is that Tidal may set emerging artists back.
  • Hosting exclusive consent from the biggest stars on the planet on a paying platform: while I agree with its intention, I fear it will send people back to pirate/torrent sites.

[The official Tidal account then confirms that 75% of its revenues would be paid back to artists – a slightly higher payout than Spotify’s 70%.]

  • Wow, so if you’re a co-owning artist you see a cut of the 25% profit, and let’s face it, probably a larger chunk of the 75% than most artists.
  • Let’s face it Jigga dropped 60 mill on a website, he probably has good long term intentions, he is a business man though.
  • He managed to find some people self important and delusional enough to spiel that ‘for the artist’ crap while clawing bk some capital.
  • Let him take care of his business damn, I hear you cry. Or ……….. “Let them eat Drake” , thank you thank you.
  • All the people yelling at me saying I’m just jealous cause I’m not as rich or relevant as the ‘Tidal16’ . I’ve been in this business 10 years. If I wanted to be relevant or as rich as the Tidal16, I wouldn’t still be working in music. Or I would have shut up and played the game long time ago.
  • Spotify pay out the but the artists aren’t getting the money, so where is it going I wonder ?? Spotify is not the enemy of the artist

“I’m not against tidal… Just don’t try and mask it as some charitable offering like you’re ‘giving something back’ when [you] could be sending more traffic to pirate sites.”

I normally agree with you but but I just don’t agree music should be free at artist’s detriment

  • I don’t think music should be free, at all. But I’m afraid that we have to adapt as the world and technology advances.
  • I care about the future of music, I care not for the current business structure.

Both [Spotify and Tidal] follow the same business model, it’s up to the labels to pay the artist. Why attack tidal?


At the end of the day, the labels get the money. So why is she against Tidal?

  • Again, I’m not against Tidal – anyone can start a business, just don’t try and mask it as some charitable offering like you’re “giving something back” ” taking a stand” “protecting the art”, when actually they could be sending more traffic to pirate sites.
  • [Tidal’s] hosting “exclusive content” from the biggest stars on the planet. If you can’t afford Tidal and you really wanna see Kanye’s new video, are you gonna wait a week till it goes everywhere or go get it now?

Don’t you think artist should have control of their content?

  • YES of course I do, but they spoke for Artists and MUSIC but only consulted rich ones with nothing to lose.

Why don’t you use your affiliates to find out more about [Tidal] and what they can offer you?

  • I have done, and I’m not remotely impressed. It’s not new, not right now anyway, and I’ve got two kids and a great big mortgage to think about, and I’ve spent enough time talking about it now. I’m going to have a bath.

[A follower argues it’s not up to Lily Allen where her music ends up. Another follower replies: ‘Yes it is. Taylor Swift did it w/ Spotify.’]

  • Taylor Swift owns her recording rights, most of us don’t. Yet.
  • [Allen also retweeted the following comment: ‘Are labels really necessary in 2015? Maybe we should just ditch them and self release’]

Spotify pays 70% of its revenues to rights holders. Renegotiate your contract instead of having a tantrum.

  • I’m fine with my rate thanks.

Music Business Worldwide

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  • Jon Riffioso Hockley

    All this throwing stones at each other? Does no one accept piracy is the root of these problems?

    • Labels are the root of the problem.

      • Jon Riffioso Hockley

        What is your reasoning? My reasoning is that soon as services start charging customers content can just be found for free anyway. I don’t believe music should be free. Labels invest a lot of money into the music industry they are unfair and should give more to artists but reduce piracy and you can put more money back into the industry. Then we can argue how it is divided.

        • Top Cat

          Big labels invest a lot of money into the big players of the music industry, and then take most of their cut. There’s no room for emerging independent artists in the current industry framework, other than giving away their music for free.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            Surely we should work to put more money into the industry rather than reduce the money the labels have. The more money floating around the more sustainable niches can become.

          • Top Cat

            More money into the industry does not necessarily translate in more money towards the big labels. Nowadays any musician can create its own independent label. We should be directing the money to buy their music directly from them. That’s the only way they get 100% of the profit.

  • princessgleek

    I really don’t think exclusives is the way to go, spotify only has Metallica’s back catalogue for example. Apple’s streaming service if it has the same music available as it does to buy then it might well have The Beatles back catalogue, but nobody wants to pay for every streaming service going.

  • atlmuzikfanzinc

    I have to agree with Lily Allen. The Beyonce and Rihanna exclusive content posted on Tidal sent people racing to YouTube, soundcloud, and other sites. They found that content and got it for free.The technology too advanced to try and hold this content from fans. All they need is one person to copy it and its everywhere. I rather people get the content from spotify. The ads support the free part of spotify. People wouldn’t care if spotify didn’t have a lot of users.

    • Jon Riffioso Hockley

      Do you think it’s right for Youtube to allow anyone to upload anything to their platform? As an artist i think it’s wrong. I use YouTube as a promotional platform to bring attention to my sellable art

      • Ricky Moffett

        Do I think it is right. Of course. Use it the way you desire and same goes for everyone else. There are sights for promotional interests. Case in point, make one for yourself. Put videos on it. And whatever else. Self-promote and don’t assume just because You Tube is for everyone it should only be for ‘artist’s’. Everyone promotes themselves. Didn’t mean to lecture, just to inform and answer your question.

        • Jon Riffioso Hockley

          I think i didn’t explain my question well enough. By “anything” what i mean is that Youtube doesn’t do enough to honour intellectual rights. It’s too easy to distribute other peoples music on Youtube.

  • Jason Gary

    It’s fine to want to be rich, but to rail against an industry that has already made you filthy rich, because you think you should be even richer…?

    The best, most enduring artists throughout history had one thing in common: they did it for the art. They loved their art, and they wanted to share it with the world.

    This? This engorged, whining hog that we call the music “industry?” This isn’t about art. If only they could at least admit THAT much.

    • Jon Riffioso Hockley

      I don’t think music is that black and white. I think that money can be used to make great art, great art can be used to make money. Not all great artists were poor and not all poor artists are great.

      • Jason Gary

        Everything you said is true, but my point holds: the music industry has evolved into business first and a consortium of artists second. Artists are rewarded for adhering to stereotypes and formulas. The better you are at the game, the more money you get, and more money is more power. Suddenly, you have a bunch of aristocrats drinking champagne on a stage, bemoaning how free and accessible music has become.

        • Jon Riffioso Hockley


  • Happy Gal

    Music is free today. You wanna make money? Go on tour.

    • Paul Abruzzo

      Sounds like someone who isn’t good enough to make a living as a musician. Go practice.