Singer-songwriter Damien Jurado announced last weekend that he was taking his music off of Spotify, effective immediately. He is also severing ties between Spotify and his record label, Maraqopa. Like many other artists, Jurado decided that he could not do business with Spotify anymore because of how little the app pays to musicians.
Jurado announced his departure from Spotify in a lengthy post on Facebook. He wrote: "Maraqopa Records has made the decision to leave Spotify. Why? answer: I simply cannot continue to support or align myself with a corporation who continues to profit off of the musicians it refuses to pay a fair and decent living wage. I am requesting the action of my removal immediately. My principles must align with the life I live."
A message from Damien Jurado: LEAVING Spotify —————————- Maraqopa Records has made the decision to leave Spotify. ...Posted by Damien Jurado on Saturday, January 7, 2023
"Just as the personal decisions I make when it comes to both the environment and animal welfare. This to me is no different," Jurado went on. "Keep in mind that it is only Spotify that I am removing my music from. Platforms such as TIDAL, Apple Music, etc. will stay in place. Understand that I am in no way, shape, or form, anti-streaming. I accept reality. I however do not accept unacceptable business practices and unfair treatment of artists. "
Jurado has a long history in the indie rock music scene going back to the mid-1990s. He started releasing lo-fi folk-inspired songs on cassette at the time, gaining a substantial following in his hometown of Seattle. He was first signed by Sub Pop Records, which released his first full-length album Waters Ave S. in 1997.
Jurado is known for experimenting with different recording methods and using field recordings in many of his releases. He went on to release several records with Sub Pop and several with the label Secretly Canadian. In 2019 he switched over to Loose Music for two records before finally establishing his own label, Maraqopa. It is named after a fictional setting described in many of his songs.
Jurado remains the only artist signed by Maraqopa Records, but the distinction of losing business with a label as well as an artist is all the more concerning for Spotify. The streamer made headlines last year when it lost the catalogs of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and India Arie. More artists have criticized the streamer and taken their music off of it where possible.
The simplified explanation of Spotify's business model is that it pays record labels or rights-holders based on the number of plays a single song gets, and those labels are responsible for paying the artists. In practice, critics have pointed out many issues with this system over the last few years. Spotify has not responded publicly to Jurado's announcement.