Spotify’s expansion into Korea featured a glaring omission: No artists distributed by Kakao M were added to the platform. A music distribution company and talent agency, Kakao M is a subsidiary of Korean tech giant and media conglomerate Kakao; it is perhaps best known for buying South Korea’s largest music streaming platform, Melon, in 2016….The purge appeared to be massive, impacting established artists, newer groups, indie artists, and everyone in between. Bill Werde, the former editorial director of Billboard, called it “red wedding territory for global K-Pop,” a reference to an infamous Game of Thrones scene involving the slaughter of multiple characters.
The outcry from fans was immediate: #SpotifyIsOverParty started trending on Twitter, and users reportedly canceled their Spotify subscriptions in droves. The streaming service took down the entire platform temporarily for maintenance, though some fans believed it was done to prevent them from canceling their accounts en masse. (Vox has reached out to Spotify for comment.)
Unlike the censorious Apple, Spotify has held on to its “free” ad-supported service and is very much in the advertising business. (I’ve always suspected that the only reason Spotify has shown any interest in credits or lyrics is that those text renderings are also known as advertising keywords.)
But Spotify appears to be disrupting truth in its own advertising according to the Independent. Spotify “announced on 21 January that it would be bringing Spotify Podcast Ads to the UK for all users – meaning Premium subscribers who paid to avoid adverts will still have to listen to promotional content….The ads are only available on podcasts that Spotify produces itself, so it will receive money both from subscription fees and company ads.”
In the UK, false advertising is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority, the industry-controlled “regulatory” authority. According to the Independent, “If anyone has concerns that Spotify is making a misleading advertising claim about ‘no ad interruptions’, whether the claim is on its website, in app or elsewhere, we encourage them to contact us and we’ll assess the matter further”, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told The Independent.” The complaint webform is here.
US users can complain to the Federal Trade Commission and their webform is here.
After a decade in which it seemed like illegal downloading had made it all but impossible for record companies to eke out a profit, recent years have seen things improve for the music industry. The rise of streaming services like Spotify have helped restore the major labels—now fused into three massive conglomerates—to their nineties-era wealth, with untold riches beckoning on the horizon. Despite this, the situation for musicians has never been grimmer. Streaming has failed to match the income that artists once garnered from album sales. Constant touring has replaced some of this, but for many, especially older performers, it can’t make up the gap.
While musicians struggle to bring attention to these untenable conditions, the industry’s C-suite has focused their efforts elsewhere. As firms like Spotify and Pandora glided to multi-billion-dollar valuations, hailed in the press as “saviors” of the industry, they failed to pay for all of the intellectual property on which their products were based. This gave rise to a slate of expensive and potentially destabilizing litigation that threatened such companies—and the major labels’ projected earnings. Faced with these pressing concerns, record label executives, music publishers, tech moguls, and telecommunication lobbyists came together to create legislation to address what they perceived to be the pitfalls of music’s new digital economy.
Spotify has been accused of stealing trade secrets from VoxTonePRO, a Canadian company specializing in online audio branding, in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
“This is a case about a big business stealing from a small business,” the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, said.
The lawsuit claims Spotify copied VoxTonePRO’s platform allowing advertisers to make affordable audio spots.