Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services Troy Carter gave a forceful defense of the company’s ad-supported business at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Tuesday. “We don’t ever get to a world where everybody is paying for music,” he said, arguing that it’s unrealistic to expect paid-only subscription services to work when some people can’t even afford gas for their car.

Carter went on to argue that it’s wrong to look at Spotify’s ad-supported business solely as a funnel for paid subscriptions. “They may never convert to a paying subscriber,” he said. “They may not be able to afford it.”

Carter was joined on stage by Spotify’s Chief Strategy and Chief Content Officer Stefan Blom, who argued that Spotify’s ad-supported tier isn’t actually free — at least not in the sense that the music biz is giving songs away. “We are monetizing it, and we are monetizing it well,” he said. “This ad-supported model works.”

Spotify hired Carter in June to oversee relations with artists and labels. Carter is best known as Lady Gaga’s former manager, but has previously also worked with artists like Will Smith, Meghan Trainor and John Legend.

Carter said Tuesday that relations with artists are improving, even if some, like Taylor Swift, are still withholding their tracks from Spotify. In particular, artists are starting to move away from exclusives. “A lot of artists are starting to come around,” he said.

Carter and Blom reiterated Spotify’s take on exclusives, which the service isn’t doing. “We don’t believe that it is good for the artist,” Blom said. “We are not partaking in that game.”