Musicians Are Fuming Over Meghan And Harry's Spotify Deal. Here's Why

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's plan to become financially independent seems to be going pretty well so far. The former royal couple has a major deal with Netflix, and in December 2020, they signed a podcast deal with Spotify. But not everyone is happy with the $25 million arrangement.

In April 2021, the U.K.-based Musicians' Union signed an open letter addressed to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking the government to "put the value of music back where it belongs — in the hands of music makers," per NME. The letter, signed by big-name musicians including Chris Martin and Paul McCartney, urged the government to ensure that artists are paid fairly when their music is streamed on sites like Spotify.

And while not all of the artists in question called out Meghan and Harry's Spotify deal in particular, some artists have a bone to pick with the streaming platform and its multimillion-dollar deal with the former royals. Here's what to know about the controversy.

Some musicians aren't happy Spotify is paying Meghan and Harry millions

Harrison Rhys, a 15-year-old musician based in the U.K., told the Daily Star that Spotify's multimillion-dollar deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is an "unethical kick in the teeth." While the musician agreed that Meghan and Harry are "doing a lot of good," he wasn't happy with their massive payout, when most artists "are only being paid £0.0038 per stream" by the streaming service.

"What Spotify pays artists is ridiculous — it's way too low, no money is made," another U.K. artist, Simon Fielder, who goes by the stage name Uncle Greedy, told the Daily Star. "I don't get paid from Spotify, it's never broken even from the money I used to put songs on Spotify," U.K.-based singer-songwriter Callum Gardner said to the newspaper.

Other industry professionals and fans criticized Meghan and Harry, too. "Let's take $25M to talk about being woke, money that could go to deserving artists," tweeted SiriusXM host Shaun Proulx. "Harry & Meghan's $25 million Spotify deal is proof positive that when it comes to the music industry, the biggest victims are professional musicians. Where is their Spotify deal?," another person tweeted.

Spotify's artist payments have been criticized in the past

The latest controversy isn't the first time artists have criticized streaming services. In 2014, Taylor Swift removed her first four albums from Spotify, per The Verge. At the time, Swift wrote a Wall Street Journal essay about why artists should be paid fairly for their work. Her albums reappeared on Spotify in 2017, but not before she called on the industry to think critically about its practices.

Still, Spotify's payouts have been lucrative for a select number of artists. In June 2017, Forbes reported that The Weeknd had earned $92 million over a one-year period, some of which included the earnings from his Spotify streams. But for artists who don't have millions of annual streams, it's much harder to generate sustainable income from the platform. When you're making less than a penny every time your song is streamed, it's understandable why some artists aren't happy to see the former royals ink a $25 million deal.

Meghan and Harry's deal is indicative of larger trouble with Spotify and the streaming economy, and it doesn't look like things will be resolved anytime soon.

Meghan and Harry's first podcast episode featured a guest appearance from Baby Archie

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry proved why Spotify offered them a multimillion-dollar deal in their first episode, released back in December 2020. The royal couple's introduction to the world of podcasting was a star-studded event. Their holiday special featured guests like Tyler Perry, Naomi Osaka, James Corden, Stacey Abrams, and Elton John, as USA Today reported.

The couple brought together people they admired to talk about the lessons we could learn from 2020, a tumultuous year for the world as well as Meghan and Harry. "As we all know, it's been a YEAR," Harry said on the podcast. "And we really want to honor the compassion and kindness that has helped so many people get through it." Meghan added that they also wished "to honor those who have experienced uncertainty and unthinkable loss."

But the real draw for fans of the royal family was baby Archie, who spoke his first recorded words at the end of the episode. He wished listeners a "happy new year" as his parents laughed and cheered him on, celebrating a successful first podcast.

They have also secured a million-dollar deal with Netflix

The deal that Netflix signed with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's has also been speculated to be worth millions, per Sky News. The couple's first series, "Heart of Invictus," was announced in April 2021. It will be produced by their company Archewell Studios and will follow members of the armed forces who are preparing to compete in various sporting events at the Invictus Games.

"Prince Harry has been a champion of the Invictus Games since its inception so it's fitting that Archewell's first Netflix series will spotlight and celebrate the competition's amazing athletes," Netflix wrote on their Twitter.

"Since the very first Invictus Games back in 2014, we knew that each competitor would contribute in their own exceptional way to a mosaic of resilience, determination, and resolve," Harry stated. "This series will give communities around the world a window into the moving and uplifting stories of these competitors on their path to the Netherlands next year."

Harry will serve as executive producer for the series as well as making an on-screen appearance. So even if some aren't pleased with the deals that streaming services have offered them, it looks like the couple will be financially secure as they continue to separate themselves from the royal family.