The Swedish company's chief executive published a blog post on the company's website on Tuesday complaining about "all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists”.
“We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it," he wrote, adding that the recent criticism upsets him "big time".
Taylor Swift recently announced that she was withdrawing her songs from Spotify because she saw the service as "a bit like a grand experiment".
"I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music," she told Yahoo News.
Taylor Swift has removed her albums from Spotify. Photo: TT
Spotify now has 50 million active users, with 12.5 million of them paying for a monthly subscription.
In his post, Ek said that Spotify had paid out more than $2 billion in royalties to labels and publishers.
“A billion dollars from the time we started Spotify in 2008 to last year and another billion dollars since then. And that’s two billion dollars’ worth of listening that would have happened with zero or little compensation to artists and songwriters through piracy or practically equivalent services if there was no Spotify,” he wrote.
“When I hear stories about artists and songwriters who say they’ve seen little or no money from streaming and are naturally angry and frustrated, I’m really frustrated too. The music industry is changing – and we’re proud of our part in that change – but lots of problems that have plagued the industry since its inception continue to exist.”
According to Ek, a top international star like Taylor Swift can expect to earn around 44 million kronor a year ($6 million) from Spotify.
Ek also claimed that a top artist like Taylor Swift can expect to earn $6 million a year from Spotify streams.
He also pointed to artists who promoted their new releases on Spotify and scored "terrific sales" alongside lots of streaming, for example Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey and alt-J.
Ek noted that Daft Punk, Calvin Harris and Eminem had number ones and were on Spotify at the same time too.