I wonder which TikTok exec would be talking to an FCC commissioner like Brendan Carr? Could it be this guy aka “Old Twinkletoes”? Hanging in there for the “Say Anything” IPO tour?
Here it is: Remember how Spotify, Google, Amazon, Pandora have literally dozens of lawyers arguing over song royalties for a good four years? Probably longer. Remember how these knuckleheads whined to Congress for yet another safe harbor in the so very modern Music Modernization Act? And remember how if they just had a global rights database they’d be able to pay everyone and pay them on time?
Well…as it turns out now these tech giants who can tell you what floor of your house you are Tweeting from say they can’t make an adjusting payment on time. This probably means they think the rates are going to increase, right? But here’s what Variety’s Jem Aswad says is going on:
Untold millions of dollars in legal and lobbying fees later, a decision on 2018-22 — officially called Phonorecords III — is expected in the coming days, and according to documents obtained by Variety, it appears the streaming services do not expect to be successful.
The streaming services have appealed to the Copyright Office for more time to pay that potential increase — and been soundly criticized by five U.S. senators in a letter obtained by Variety, who stated “serious concern about any requests that would delay important and necessary royalty payments to copyright owners and [oppose] any granting by the Copyright Office of an extension.”
This most recent back-and-forth began with a six-page letter to the General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights dated June 1 on the letterhead of Latham and Watkins — a law firm working on behalf of the Digital Licensee Coordinator, which represents music-streaming services — in which a five-point argument is made for delaying retroactive payments that may be incurred by Phonorecords III to ensure “that royalties continue to flow to copyright owners with minimal disruption and that any changes to the rates for prior time periods be addressed efficiently and effectively.”
First of all is that the same Latham and Watkins lawyer who used to be a lawyer for the Copyright Office as did the head lobbyist for Spotify? Revolving door, anyone? So there’s that.
The idea that these people need more time to get ready to pay higher rates that they themselves have lawyered up to delay for years is just a bit too rich. Watch this space, we’ll see how it turns out.
But–here’s something else we don’t need. Sometimes when it’s just “too complicated” to get it right, there’s a back room deal for a lump sum payment that settles the legal liability and also avoids the services doing any accounting.
What happens to that lump sum? Anyone’s guess. Probably goes into the same bank account with the other $500,000,000 that the MLC got its paws on and hasn’t paid out.
So no, let’s not do that again. The difference this time is that whoever steps up and says they can settle on behalf of all the publishers and songwriters in the known universe is probably lying.
Big thanks to Jon at Camden Live for posting about this really important documentary about the deep, down and dirty effects of Spotify on music, musicians and the creative process.
It’s always been a hard road for musicians to make money from their songs. Nonetheless, selling tons of singles and albums was at least a target and something bands could dream about. Of course, there were many ways the labels could work the sales figures to get their shares out first, and only then the bands might see something. Despite the conflict between the often industrial-strength labels and the upcoming artists, there was at least hope that money was flowing back to the content creators. Now though in the age of streaming music, the connection between making music and making a living is profoundly broken.
This schism is the subject matter for Lightbringer Production’s documentary film “The Way The Music Died” featuring insights from musicians and industry pros, including Mishkin Fitzgerald from Birdeatsbaby. The film probes the spirit of artists determined to keep writing songs in the face of the meager payouts from the giant and ever-growing music stream service Spotify. Find out why this is ripping-out the heart and soul of new music.
[Editor Charlie sez: Everyone paying attention knew from the time they stopped calling it SIRA II and started calling it Music Modernization Act (a title that conveys exactly zero information about the subject of the bill) that the legislation was designed to lock in the Harry Fox Agency’s death grip on songwriters. And therefore also knew for years that the MLC would be run by the majors and would be serviced by the same HFA database that resulted in many lawsuits against Spotify for being unlicensed. So if the HFA is the best of breed and the gold standard and all the other euphemisms for mediocrity that MLC threw out there, they should have been standing ready to match the $474 million in unmatched that got paid after the 1/1/21 “license availability date” because of their super duper song matching capability. Not only have HFA apparently not matched the lions share of the $474 million, what the MLC has announced as matched is for services that HFA did no work for that we know of. And remember, this is not a cost issue because the services are paying for the cost.
“Give them a chance” you will be told by the smart people, particularly by the non-oversight of the Copyright Office. They had their chance. The game was rigged to begin with–and overseen by the head of lobbying for Spotify. If they’d spent less time rigging the game and less time giving each other awards and listening to the sound of one back slapping, we would not have this problem.
But don’t worry, no one will get fired because you can’t be late if there are no deadlines. And now…back to sleep.]