Meghan and Prince Harry’s ‘£18m’ Spotify deal is ‘kick in teeth’ for musicians

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's multi-million pound Spotify deal has been described as a "kick in the teeth" by musicians.

The Sussexes signed a contract – reportedly worth £18million – to produce and host podcasts for the music streaming service, much to the ire of musicians who complain the royalties they receive from Spotify are too low.

Rock stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Chris Martin, Kate Bush, Robert Plant and Stevie Nicks this week called on the government to reform the way musicians are paid when their songs are streamed online.

With Boris Johnson yet to respond to their calls for new legislation to protect artists paid as little as £0.0038 per stream, British musicians young and old have spoken to the Daily Star.

They blasted Spotify boss Horacio Gutierrez's claims defending the Sussexes podcast deal to MPs in February.

He said it was among those that create a "virtuous cycle" that help struggling musicians by getting more people on the site.

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Singer-songwriter Callum Gardner, 26, of Guildford, Surrey, told us: "I've been writing songs since I was 12 years-old. And learning instruments and I've been to university and studied music. It's something I've always wanted to do.

"I don't get paid from Spotify, it's never broken even from the money I used to put songs on Spotify.

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"It's hard, I don't know what we are supposed to do because they have all the power and somehow all of the artists have all agreed.

"I think it's up to the artists to decide the price of their music."

Asked about how streaming giants are affecting the music industry, he said: "The real money is in creating beats for people to use in other tracks – that's what they do create.

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"We are already there because that's why it's (computer-made music) MIDI – they don't use real audio.

"They can do it on a laptop and that's basically because they can't afford a drummer."

Callum, who put on 128 solo shows up and down the country in 2019, added: "It's really sad because I'm a musician, I've studied music for 12 years, I'm so passionate about harmonies and it's disappointing because you're not going to get The Beatles if it's someone sat on a laptop."

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Talented youngster Harrison Rhys believes Harry and Meghan are "doing a lot of good" but branded the lucrative streaming deals an "unethical kick in the teeth".

The Portsmouth artist is already headlining gigs aged 15 and getting his songs played on BBC Introducing.

He said: "I believe what Spotify have done is unethical, we are only being paid £0.0038 per stream but they are able to pay out what is probably a multi million dollar fee to Harry and Meghan.

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"In reality who wouldn't want to accept that sort of money to have their podcast broadcast and it is likely to be a positive thing for their listeners as The Sussexes definitely are doing a lot of good with their projects around the world, but this last year has been the most difficult one for musicians where many have had the majority of their income lost so I feel this is a kick in the teeth."

Uncle Greedy, real name Simon Fielder, of Surrey, was inspired by the Beatles to pick up the guitar aged 19.

Now 44, the folk singer-songwriter said: "What Spotify pay artists is ridiculous – it’s way too low, no money is made.

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"I would like to see a fairer payment for artists who work really hard to put music with the realistic chance of making nothing.

"While they get £10 a month per person to subscribe where does the money go to? Not in my pocket I know that.

"Streaming services are good because it gives people the chance to show their work to the world all we ask for is better payment to help keep releasing music."

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Naomi Pohl, Musicians' Union Deputy General Secretary said: "Through the #BrokenRecord campaign, #FixStreaming and now this fantastically powerful letter from artists to the Prime Minister, musicians and songwriters are coming together to say enough is enough and that streaming must start paying fairly.

"At the moment, most streaming revenue benefits large corporations like the major labels at the expense of artists making a decent living.

"The time has come for change and we are hopeful the UK Government are listening and that we fix streaming and get a better deal for all music makers."

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Spotify, the Cabinet Office and the Sussexes have been contacted for comment.

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