Spotify has been forced to defend its multi-million pound podcast deal with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, saying the “box office” pair will help generate revenue.

Musicians and songwriters have complained that they receive such paltry royalties from streaming services that they are struggling to make ends meet.

At the same time, Spotify has paid the Duke and Duchess a reported £18 million to produce and host podcasts “celebrating kindness and compassion”.

Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs and chief legal officer for Spotify, appeared before MPs at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing on Wednesday as part of its inquiry into music streaming.

Mr Gutierrez did not go into detail about the Duke and Duchess’s fee but said: “They’re not doing it for free.”

Asked if the couple were regarded as “box office”, Mr Gutierrez replied: “Yes. In terms of the talent that goes into podcasts, yes.”

He likened the couple’s podcast output to Game of Thrones and House of Cards on Netflix. “Those high production shows that tend to be the tentpole that attract people into the service, and therefore benefit everyone.

“There is clear evidence that having podcast offerings on the service benefits music consumption, so on the whole there’s a virtuous cycle that occurs,” Mr Gutierrez said.

Steve Brine, Tory MP for Winchester, told Mr Gutierrez that the pay deal “sticks in the craw of some of the artists who are driving Uber cars right now to pay the rent”.