They are aggressive in negotiating terms. It's still an evolving market and an evolving business model. However:
This is an interesting take on the thing
As for Spotify, since it is not considered radio, either of this world or any other, they have a different additional royalty to pay. Like any non-broadcast use of recordings, they require a license from the rights-holder They negotiate this individually with each record label, at terms not made public. I'm happy to make ours public, however: It is the going "indie" rate of $0.005 per play. (Actually, when I do the math, that rate seems to truly pay out at $0.004611-- I hope someone got a bonus for saving the company four-hundredths of a cent on each stream!) We didn't negotiate this, exactly; for a band-owned label like ours, it's take it or leave it. We took it, which means for 5,960 plays of "Tugboat", Spotify theoretically owes our record label $29.80.
A no-name band with on their own no-name label. Of course they're not going to be raking it in on spotify, or any model. You think if spotify wasn't there they'd be laughing it up in their own private jets from multiple-platinum selling albums? That is precisely $29.80 they got that they would not have got otherwise. And the potential of exposure to new audiences they would otherwise not have reached. Higher profile acts would have been able to negotiate higher contracts, just as in any other system.
The other streams open to them are
1. they could have gone is sign to a major, get minimal support and saddled with debt. Dropped after a an album or two, or even worse prevented from touring/recording because the label wasn't interested in pushing them at that particular time. If they got lucky and they got pushed, they may make it big. But only for a bit and that would probably just about cover their recording/promotion costs.
2. sign to a indie label. Lots of feel good kudos. May make it big, but minimal marketing clout so likely not. Operating on thin margins. Fine if you're doing it for the love, but then what's the harm of spotify if you're just in it for the music?
3. Touring. Potentially lucrative, unless signed to major label.