Singer/songwriter Andrew Watt weighs in on the great Spotify debate

Image courtesy of Andrew Watt

You don't have to be Taylor Swift to have passionate feelings about Spotify. In this day and age, almost all musicians' work is directly affected by streaming services -- and the hit is even harder for emerging artists. If anyone understands the ins and outs of the great Spotify debate, it's Andrew Watt. He's held almost every job in the music business (he's a singer, songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist to some of the biggest names in the industry) and knows just how helpful and hurtful Spotify can be for his career. More importantly, he foresees a major roadblock in the future of these online services, or as he notes, "There are a lot of questions that will be raised this year and a lot of answers that will be forced to be given."

After releasing his first solo EP, "Ghost in my Head," Watt saw first-hand how streaming services changed the course of his career. Ever since then, it's been a topic that he's incredibly passionate about. Ahead, we spoke exclusively with Andrew Watt about how Spotify has changed he creates music.

And if you want even more Andrew Watt news, head over to at 6 p.m. ET to see more exclusive features, including his incredible relationship with his fans.

How do you think streaming services changed the way that you operate as a musician?
I could talk to you about Spotify for another thirty minutes if I wanted to. As an artist it's a very long conversation. But as a consumer it's one of the best things ever; I use it a lot. Spotify directly affects the sales of my music, so therefore it really makes your eyes open to the fact that if we're not touring, we're not making money. But it also gives me such an easy way into so many people's playlists and discovery of artists. If I'm talking about myself just as an artist, I got added to a playlist on Spotify that got my song over 100,000 streams within a week. That's a lot of people exposed to your music very quickly who wouldn't normally be exposed to your music. It spreads the awareness of an artist in a very viral way.

But Spotify made billions of dollars last year -- where is that money going? Not to the artists. The labels are making crazy deals with the company. There's a lot of questions that will be raised this year and a lot of answers that will be forced to be given.

It's such an ethical blurry line.
It never had to be discussed really before in this way. And an artist like a Taylor Swift can say "I'm not putting my music on Spotify," because she's such a big star already. But as a new artist coming up, you need that platform to spread your music because it's the most used platform. As an artist, I have mixed feelings about what is going on, but I directly see the positive influence of that platform on my fanbase and the spreading of my music, my online presence and engagement too. I love Spotify, I love the people over there, and they're really trying to take their rock department to the next level. And I'm really excited about the work that we're beginning to do together, I just strongly know in my heart that there are questions that artist all over the world, especially ones that have even higher engagement, are asking. You get a million streams you get something hilariously low of a profit. Your mouth would hit the floor.

But then as a songwriter as well, I'll look at the charts on Spotify and I can see what's trending and going viral in the country. I hear what people are into when I'm writing songs for other artists and trying to craft certain arcs and different song structures. Spotify has become an amazing tool. The people were able to give me crazy inside info to fans who listen to my music, like who else they listen to and what percent are girls or men. They get crazy information! They're like Nielsen SoundScan at this point. They have such insane access to be able to tell you exactly what you're demographic is, more than anyone else. And that is another way Spotify is an amazing tool.

I have this very complex relationship in my mind with Spotify and I have to say, it's way more positive that it could ever be not so positive. That's because I've accepted the time we live in. 90% of people don't buy music, they just don't. They stream it. And the money isn't distributed fairly when you stream it, but I have a feeling that it's going to come to a head soon. It's a topic that I'm very passionate about and think about a lot.

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And come back at 6 pm EST for more exclusive Andrew Watt, including how he sees the relationship between him and his fans.

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