Nor Drake. Nor Bruno Mars. You’d think they weren’t trying very hard
Spotify has ended five years of speculation about an IPO, and has filed for a public share offering likely to make its founders – and large record labels – extremely rich indeed.
But although that giant payday is built on the back of songwriters’ “sweat and precog”*, Spotify still has trouble finding them to pay them. Even when they’re as world famous as Ed Sheeran…
For more than a year, music services have been exploiting a loophole in US copyright law. Instead of sending a cheque for mechanical royalties, they’ve been filing a statutory “notice of intention” to pay them instead. The NOI is a piece of paper which isn’t redeemable for cash. (The curious can peruse the most recent NOI filings – and Spotify is not alone in filing them! – with the Licensing Division of the US Copyright Office here**).
Millions of NOIs have now been filed. How come?
Amazingly, the law does not oblige the user of the music, Spotify, to do a diligent search on who wrote it. Nor does the law oblige them to maintain and use their own records. So you can be sure that Spotify knows exactly how to find Ed Sheeran to pay him his performanceroyalty. However, in a display of insolence that Kevin The Stroppy Teenager (pictured) would envy, it manages not to find Ed Sheeran to pay him his mechanical royalty. Ed who?