24 Musicians Against Spotify And Other Streaming Services

Can't find your favorite jams on Spotify? If your favorite musicians are among these artists or bands not on Spotify or other streaming services, there's probably a reason. Since launching in 2006, Spotify has provided fans a way to listen to music for a low-cost subscription fee, or for free with commercials. The streaming service's low-paying compensation practices and perceived discouragement of creativity have been called into question by some of the most popular musicians of all time. Most take issue with the paltry compensation bands receive from the streaming service, despite high play counts.

In 2015, for example, Prince pulled his music from Spotify and every other streaming service except Tidal. Bob Seger also doesn't allow his music on Spotify, nor do fellow classic rockers like Pete Townshend and Neil Young. Many modern bands and artists as well are against Spotify and other music streaming sites and platforms, including The Black Keys, Coldplay, and Garth Brooks.

Some artists, Taylor Swift and Tool most notably, were vocal about their reasons for keeping their catalogs off Spotify but eventually made their work available on streaming services, citing new agreements or changes of heart.

  • In 2015 Prince pulled his music from Spotify and every other streaming service except Tidal.

    At the time, Spotify released a statement that read, “Prince’s publisher has asked all streaming services to remove his catalog. We have cooperated with the request, and hope to bring his music back as soon as possible."

    • Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues
    • Albums: Purple Rain, Sign 'O' the Times, 1999, Love Symbol Album, Around the World in a Day
  • The Beatles have an exclusive deal with iTunes, so none of their music is on Spotify.
    The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most influential band of all time. The group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. Their sound, rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways. They also pioneered recording techniques and explored music styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, ...more
    • Genres (Music): Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock
    • Albums: Abbey Road, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album, Rubber Soul
  • Taylor Swift
    Photo: rwoan / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    In 2014, Taylor Swift pulled all of her music off Spotify. "Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for," she said in an op-ed. "It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art."

    In 2017 Swift returned, notably on the day Katy Perry released a new album, framing it as a way to thank her fans for Swift's album 1989 selling over 10 million copies. Later, Daniel Ek, the co-founder and CEO of Spotify, shared that he'd spent time talking to her team after Swift had pulled her catalog from Spotify and that eventually "she saw how streaming was growing" and that "the fans were asking for it." When Swift signed a new recording deal with Republic Records in late 2018, the money from Spotify shares was a conditional part of the agreement. The singer explained "There was one condition that meant more to me than any other deal point. As part of my new contract with Universal Music Group, I asked that any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artist, non-recoupable."

    • Genres (Music): Pop, Country
    • Albums: Fearless, Speak Now, Red, Taylor Swift, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection
  • Neil Young pulled his music off Spotify and other streaming services in 2015 because he found the sound quality to be substandard.

    "I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” he said. “I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.”

    But in 2016, he allowed his music to be streamed once again on Spotify, Apple Music, and other services.

    Then, in 2022, Young posted a letter to his website (now removed) telling his management and record label that he wasn't happy with Spotify for hosting Joe Rogan's podcast. Young said Rogan was spreading false information about COVID-19 vaccines. According to Rolling Stone, Young wrote: "I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both." 

    Spotify then pulled Young's songs from its service, telling The Washington Post in a statement: "We want all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators."

    • Genres (Music): Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge, Folk rock, Country rock
    • Albums: Harvest, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, Tonight's the Night, On the Beach
  • In 2013, the surviving members of Pink Floyd joined forces to express their feelings about Pandora, Spotify, and other streaming services.

    "We hope that many online and mobile music services can give fans and artists the music they want, when they want it, at price points that work," they wrote. "But those same services should fairly pay the artists and creators who make the music at the core of their businesses. For almost all working musicians, it's also a question of economic survival."

    • Genres (Music): Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock, Acid rock, Progressive rock
    • Albums: The Wall, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Meddle, Animals
  • Coldplay declined to released their 2014 album Ghost Stories on Spotify.

    The decision may have helped the record reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

    • Genres (Music): Alternative rock, Pop rock
    • Albums: Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, X&Y, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, Mylo Xyloto