Bono Defends Spotify, Says Labels Need to Be More Transparent

U2 Apple Bono Tim Cook 2014 L
Associated Press

He also discusses the recent iTunes U2 album giveaway controversy and calls himself "a spoiled rock star" who is "paid too much"

U2 frontman Bono lauded streaming services for helping artists get their music out and defended Spotify and its payouts to musicians.

"The real enemy is not between digital downloads or streaming. The real enemy, the real fight is between opacity and transparency," he said at the Web Summit conference in Dublin, The Guardian reported.

"The music business has historically involved itself in quite considerable deceit," he added. "But if we change that bit and people can actually see how many times they're being played, where they're being played, get access to information on the people who are listening to them, get paid direct debit … I think those payments will add up to something."

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Asked about Spotify and some music industry figures' criticism of its payments to musicians, Bono said: "Spotify [is] giving up 70 percent of all [its] revenues to rights owners. It's just that people don't know where the money is because the record labels haven't been transparent."

He also said that digital music services are good news for artists who are starting out now. "I'm already paid too much. I'm a spoiled rock star," he said, according to The Guardian. "I'm the wrong spokesperson for this, but I have to tell you if I were starting a band now, aged 17 or 18, I would be very excited."

But he also acknowledged that "it is clear that there are some traumas as we move from physical to digital and 20th century to 21st century, and the people paying the highest price for those traumas are songwriters rather than performers."

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Bono once again addressed U2's recent album giveaway in a deal with Apple's iTunes. Some iPhone and iPad owners didn't like that they had the album, Songs of Innocence, automatically downloaded to their devices.

"We got a lot of people who were uninterested in U2 to be mad with U2," Bono said in Dublin. "I would call that an improvement in the relationship."

He said the important thing for the band was that it got paid for the music. "No one values music more than the members of U2. To us music is a sacrament; it's a sacred thing," The Guardian quoted Bono as saying, "I think artists should be paid way more than they are."

Twitter: @georgszalai