TL;DR: Spotify should integrate a Donation button!
Derek Webb wrote an insightful post on why he as a musician prefers piracy to Spotify. In short, he gets paid $0.00029 per stream of a song played, versus a dollar per sell on iTunes for example. He claims that using Spotify gives a false sense of justification as opposed to piracy, where you know that what you’re doing is potentially harmful to the artist.
Those who claim that the absence of paid artists would lead to less art do not understand creativity: people will always create, it is a compulsion, the only question is whether they can do it for a living.
Fortunately it won’t come to this. There are many alternative ways to reward artists. The simplest is voluntary payment. This is an extension of the patronage system which was frequently used to reward artists prior to copyright, where a wealthy person would fund an artist to allow them to create full-time. The Internet permits an interesting extension of this idea, where rather than having just one wealthy patron, you could have hundreds of thousands, contributing small amounts of money over the Internet.
My idea for Spotify is simple yet powerful: On top of the Spotify Unlimited monthly fee, add a ‘Donation button’ which behaves like the Facebook Like-button or Google’s +1, and directly donates a pre-set amount of money (default of 1 dollar) to the musician. This would be easy to implement because a creditcard is already linked to your Spotify account.
It can even imagine this taking a social turn, where your donation appears in your Facebook’s timeline: “I’ve donated one dollar to 50 cent”.