Spotify and the NMPA are contacting artists and publishers encouraging them to sign on to the $25 million settlement they negotiated over unreported and unpaid royalties for unlicensed streams. This week, TuneCore reached out to the artists using their music publishing platform encouraging them to opt-in.
TuneCore sent an email this week to the tens of thousands of independent songwriters that use its Publishing Administration services, encouraging them to opt-in to a $25 million settlement with Spotify over the use of unlicensed tracks negotiated by the NMPA. The email (below) has drawn fire from artists advocates including former TuneCore CEO and founder Jeff Price and musician David Lowery, who has filed a lawsuit against Spotify.
Jeff Price, who co-founded TuneCore and now runs royalty collection service Audiam, says that the email is misleading. "The recent email from TuneCore to its customers states, 'These are royalties that are due to songwriters and publishers who Spotify has not been able to identify yet.' This is not a correct statement" says Price. "Most self distributed/self music published artists - like those that use TuneCore and/or CD Baby, etc. - did not earn royalties as their music was taken and used by Spotify without a license. This is infringement. There is no royalty earned if your music is unlicensed."
Price continues: "This is what the class action lawsuits are about; Spotify took music without a license, raised $1.5 billion in venture capital, built a valuation of $8.5 billion in an attempt to reach an IPO and infringed on the artist’s copyright. In particular, this wrong information may mislead artists to opt into the 'settlement' which waives the artists rights to monetary damages from infringement which are being pursued in the class action lawsuits."
"the more that opt out,
the lower the possible class action damages"
"Right now, these artists can participate in any Class Action damages. But the more that opt out, the lower the possible class action damages as the artists waived their rights," Price concluded. "My recommendation is wait for the class action results."
Musician and outspoken industry critic David Lowery, who has filed a lawsuit against Spotify and is seeking class action status to include other artists and publishers, is equally incensed.
"Are you fucking kidding me?," he wrote on his blog. "If you are a Tunecore songwriter you recently got an email asking you to sign up for the NMPA/Harry Fox Agency/ Spotify settlement. Songwriters are directed to the above Survey Monkey form. This is it. No details. Nothing. Nada. In particular there is no mention of the possible statutory damages that songwriters are waiving by opting in to this."