SPOTIFY has been forced to defend a reported whopping £18million podcast deal with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as musicians face a pay struggle.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex last year launched Archewell Audio, saying they wanted to build a community “through shared experiences, powerful narratives and universal values”.
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The deal came under fire at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing – with Spotify believed to pay musicians between £0.002 and £0.0038 per stream.
Appearing before MPs, Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs and chief legal officer for Spotify, said it was hoped the high profile couple would attract people to the service.
And when asked if the couple were considered “box office” he replied: “Yes. In terms of the talent that goes into podcasts, yes.”
While he did not confirm how much the couple were being paid for the podcast series, he said: “They’re not doing it for free.”
The Telegraph today reported the Sussexes – who last week officially quit the Royal Family – were being paid £18m for the deal with Spotify.
Mr Gutierrez said: “Those high production shows that tend to be the tentpole that attract people into the service, and therefore benefit everyone.
“There is clear evidence that having podcast offerings on the service benefits music consumption, so on the whole there’s a virtuous cycle that occurs.”
Meghan, 39, and Prince Harry, 36, have also recently signed a £112m deal with Netflix and will appear in a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey next month.
The Sussexes, who are currently living in an £8m mansion in Santa Barbara, were last week stripped of their honorary titles as Megxit was confirmed.
And Steve Brine, Tory MP for Winchester, told Mr Gutierrez that the pay deal “sticks in the craw of some of the artists who are driving Uber cars right now to pay the rent”.
Musicians have particularly been struggling during the Covid pandemic – with the Musicians Union recently revealing nearly half of its members were already being forced to seek alternative work while 70% are currently doing less than a quarter of their regular work.
And during the committee, Elbow frontman Guy Garvey said “the future of music” was being threatened by the way artists were being paid for audio sttreams.
He told MPs: “That sounds very dramatic but if musicians can’t afford to pay the rent… we haven’t got tomorrow’s music in place.”
About £1bn is generated in the UK when artists’ music is played online however the committee is examining if artists receive a fair share of this sum.
The current system means that the money earned by streaming services is pooled before then being distributed according to market share.
This means that if Elbow’s music accounts for 1% of all streams on Spotify, the band and their label receive 1% of the money.
The amount that musicians are paid by streaming giants is not clear however Spotify is believed to pay between £0.002 and £0.0038 per stream.
Apple Music pays about £0.0059 while YouTube pays the least – about £0.00052 (or 0.05 pence) per stream.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been contacted for comment.