Last week, major music publishers promised a war against Spotify. But it looks like another army has beaten them to the punch.
In paperwork filed in federal court this week, more than one hundred musicians and songwriters demanded that Spotify pay its fair share of publishing royalties.
And yes — the specific royalty in question is the ‘mechanical’ reproduction royalty. Spotify has now declared that reproduction rights don’t apply to them, but potentially billions in legal damages say otherwise. And the list of artists demanding compensation is enough to create a serious public relations nightmare.
The list of protesting artists is impressive: Tom Petty, Zach De La Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, David Cassidy, the heirs of Sony Bono, Kenny Rogers, and Kim Gordon. Even Anthony Hopkins, who apparently moonlights in classical composition, is on the list.
Shepherding the rebuttal is Wixen Publishing, just one of a number of publishers upset with Spotify payouts.
At root is a recently-drafted, $43 million settlement over unpaid mechanicals.
This was actually signed before Spotify decided that the entire mechanical license was bullsh-t. But the $43 million accord, one of two major agreements surrounding mechanicals, seemed to offer Spotify an easy escape from a harrowing licensing dispute. But that was wishful thinking.
Now, the overwhelming sentiment is that $43 million is an insult.