"Even today on our marketplace, there's literally millions and millions of artists. What tends to be reported are the people that are unhappy," Ek says in a new interview.
Led by Stuart Dredge, the in-depth discussion catches up with the streaming giant, which has seen stabilizing numbers and revenue growth in recent months despite the pandemic. The conversation also brought up recent criticism of the company's mishandling of streaming royalties, particularly at a time when musicians have limited income.
"It's quite interesting that while the overall pie is growing, and more and more people can partake in that pie, we tend to focus on a very limited set of artists," Ek revealed.
"Even today on our marketplace, there's literally millions and millions of artists. What tends to be reported are the people that are unhappy, but we very rarely see anyone who's talking about… In the entire existence [of Spotify] I don't think I've ever seen a single artist saying 'I'm happy with all the money I'm getting from streaming.'"
"Stating that publicly. In private they have done that many times, but in public they have no incentive to do it. But unequivocally, from the data, there are more and more artists that are able to live off streaming income in itself," he continued.
"There is a narrative fallacy here, combined with the fact that, obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can't record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough," he said.
Ek then placed responsibility on the artist and their level of engagement with their followers. "The artists today that are making it realize that it's about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans."
Taylor Swift, Ek says, is one example of a musician successfully engaging with their fans, with the promotion of her new album, Folklore.
"I feel, really, that the ones that aren't doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released."
The conversation follows recent news of the streaming service's quarterly financial results, which saw the company earn revenue of $1.89 billion in Q2, which is up by 13% from last year. The platform also gained 138 million subscribers and 299 million monthly active users in that quarter.
In March, Spotify received public backlash after asking record labels and artists to pay for advertisements to increase the platform's revenue growth. The company was also criticized after it launched a "tip jar" feature in April, which allows artists to collect donations directly through their fans.
Read the full interview here.
Resident Advisor has a ticketing partnership with Spotify.