D.I.Y.

TuneCore Encourages Members To Opt-In To $25M Spotify NMPA Settement, Artist Advocates Cry Foul

Tunecorevertical2015Spotify 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. 

Spotify Settlement Opt InJeff Price & David Lowery Cry Foul

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."

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3 Comments

  1. Mr Price sounds confused when he says:
    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.
    The email was directed to Tunecore’s publishing clients whom they represent. Tunecore has licensed the compositions they represent to Spotify directly. These should be licensed compositions. There may or may not be unpaid royalties owed on these licensed works.

  2. @jserr
    The statement from TuneCore is factually incorrect.
    They wrongly state “These are royalties that are due to songwriters and publishers who Spotify has not been able to identify yet”
    First, the money being referred to is not just money owed to TuneCore artists
    Second, the “royalties” being referred to do NOT represent royalties that are due to songwriters and publishers that “are licensed” as many of the compositions are unlicensed. It is incorrect to state it is royalties owed to those artists whom “Spotify has not been able to identify yet”.
    TuneCore’s email is mischaracterizing the money as “royalties” which suggests (misleads) that Spotify is fully licensed when it is not.
    Spotify had no licenses for many of the composition therefore these compositions earned no royalties. Instead they are infringing on the compositions. With infringement, copyright holders are able to pursue up to $150,000 for each willful infringement.
    TuneCore’s email is misleading wrong and suggesting to artists that Spotify is licensed when it is not.
    Jeff Price
    Audiam

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