Spotify Can’t Find Songwriters Performing at Spotify High Roller Party in Cancun

Ah, Cancun, where the elite meet and the US Consulate is located next to the jail.

According to Digital Music News:

Spotify is currently hosting a pricey offsite meeting in Cancun, Mexico, with dozens or more executives and employees participating.

Of course, Cancun isn’t usually associated with getting work done — unless that work involves repeatedly lifting rum cocktails.  But this offsite is reportedly focused on assembling content groups from various global offices.  Beyond that, we’re not sure of the exact business purpose.

One Spotify executive referred to this as a ‘Spotify Music Conference’.  Another source noted that the ‘entire content org’ at Spotify is attending the getaway.  Sounds like a lot of people.

There seems to be a strong Latin emphasis among the performers (more on that below), which makes sense given the location.  But at this stage, this looks like a broader global content and curator meet-up.

According to one source, the action is happening at the Ritz Carlton Cancun, which is surrounded on all sides by white-sand beaches and light blue waters.  According to the resort’s website, room prices start at $439 a night for an ‘Ocean View Guest Room,’ and quickly climb to $1,329 a night for the spacious ‘Club Master Suite’.

Two of the artists performing at the Spotify soiree…sorry, I mean working conference… are Nicky Jam and ChocQuibTown.  What’s strange about that is that Spotify can’t seem to find the songwriters for these two artists:

nicky jam noi

nick rivera caminero nois

chocquibtown

carlos valencia

Now Spotify can explain to these artists why their songwriters aren’t getting paid.  Good thing we have that Music Modernization Act safe harbor that will put everything right as rain.

@ tnm___: Women Artists Lose Out When Algorithms Help Book Events

[This is a really important post by Tshepo Mokoena–in a male dominated industry (streaming) that reflects another male-dominated industry (music), with playlists manipulated by men to men, the much vaunted “artist data” benefits for touring falls down both economically, artistically and ethically.  Turns out streaming is a hyperefficient way to make sure the rich keep getting richer and the bias keeps getting stronger.  Thanks, again, Spotify!]

A funny thing happens when a mixed-gender group chats in a room: people, of all genders, tend to think that the women are talking more. And they tend to think that even while the opposite is true….In translation: women have had to fight for a voice in the public sphere so much that their bare minimum participation is seen as Too Much.

I bring this up, because it’s just about that time for the annual rollout of the coming summer’s festival lineups and their inevitable gender imbalances. Welcome! You can almost draw a parallel between that academic idea – how one woman speaking a little, giving a bit of input, is perceived as her being on a par vocally with the men in the room – and the way women can still feel like a box-ticking afterthought at festivals. A 2017 BBC study found that all-male acts accounted for 80 percent of UK festival headliners. The same study also noted that a quarter of those top slots basically were taken by the same 20 acts – your Muses, Kasabians, Foo Fighters, Killers and so on.

But what about outside the traditional rock festival setup? This week, two events – Spotify’s Who We Be Live in London late this month, and Annie Mac’s AMP Lost & Found festival in Malta in May 2019 – shared news of some of their confirmed artists. Both present some pretty incredible talent, from UK rap, R&B and electronic music. Who We Be, after all, is the name of Spotify’s grime and rap-focused playlist. But, look closer and you also start to notice another trend emerge around gender balance, specifically when streaming plays as central a role in booking a live show, as it does for Who We Be. So while festivals are expanding beyond the ‘yes, let’s go see Kaiser Chiefs for the 18th time!!’ format, what space does that leave for women, in an industry that’s still traditionally dominated by men?

….In the US, Spotify’s RapCaviar, with its more than 10.5 million followers, is often cited as a star-maker. Only, hehehe, it turns out that women feature on it very rarely. When writer David Turner looked into the numbers, for Jezebel’s The Muse earlier this year, he found that women rappers accounted for about 4 percent of artists on the playlist between May 2016 and December 2017. Women overall made up 10.8 percent of RapCaviar artists over that time period.

Read the post on Noisy

Must Read: @musicbizworld Rob Stringer Interviewed by Tim Ingham

If you don’t have time for any other news this week, make sure you read Rob Stringer’s interview in Music Business Worldwide, which should be read side by side with Jody Gerson’s recent interview with Anne Marie Steele.

Rob Stringer (CEO of Sony Music Entertainment) is a long-time records man who brings that underappreciated touch to Sony.  (And since I agree with a lot of his approach, naturally I think its refreshing.)

Here’s an example.  Every now and then, a label runs across an opportunity for one of their artists that turns out to be a windfall, a true windfall.  Sometimes those are driven largely by the artist’s own reputation and creative patina like a soundtrack, sometimes the label creates the opportunity.  Either way, it’s not budgeted revenue and it’s both nonrecurring and unusually large, so there’s a strong argument for pass through treatment from time to time.  “Pass through” meaning the label collects the money but pays the artist’s share of it out regardless of the artist’s recoupment status.

This generally gives the accountants heartburn, even if done sparingly.  But in addition to being a good artist relations move, it’s also the right thing to do.  I did that with Road Rash 3DO which was the first videogame to use “real” music, i.e., licensed music, and was also the first and last to actually pay a royalty (across all platforms).  (Some games do pay a royalty, but not like the one we got.)  I also did it with a soundtrack that was one of the last truly huge soundtracks and our artist had a featured slot.  Both those instances put 6 figures into the artist’s bank accounts and we made plenty of money, too.  Moral of the story:  Leave some on the table.

The same can be said of Rob Stringer’s decision to “give back” to Sony artists on the sale of Sony’s shares in Spotify (more or less confirming that there was a tranche of shares issued to Sony as consideration for licensing the catalog):

 “We gave back to the artists which was a deliberate strategy because we wanted to say to them, [you’re] the reason we have most of these shares…”

That’s a great attitude.  And of course, is exactly right.  (Sony also bought some shares, which, of course, should be Sony’s money as it was Sony’s risk.)  I’m not so sure that someone didn’t have to…shall we say persuade…others in the company of the correctness of the sharing move, and it is an awful lot of money.  But in the end Rob Stringer got the company to do the right thing, and it’s the kind of thing a good records man would do.

He also makes another excellent point that every artist should think seriously about when considering one of these various direct deals on offer:

“I don’t think Spotify wants to be funding the entire artist development process – we have thousands of people, literally, that we can get to face in the same direction on a global basis,” said Stringer.

“Spotify doesn’t claim to have those thousands of people globally [working in artist development], they are a digital distribution platform… sometimes the lines can become blurred and, quite frankly, we’re both learning as we go along.”

When a major is actually working for you and firing on all cylinders, they really do have that ability to get everyone around the world doing the same thing at the same time in multiple time zones and through multiple distribution channels relevant to their particular market.  Or as Jody Gerson said, “[i]t takes a village to break an artist.”

Amen.

@shirleyhalperin: New Apple Music Head Named as Service Surpasses 40 Million Subscribers

[And Apple leads Spotify in another metric, too.  Apple has not filed a single “address unknown” mass NOI–not one.  Spotify has filed millions.]

[An internal Apple] memo, obtained by Variety, [contained] the latest subscription milestone achieved by the three-year-old service. Apple Music now counts more than 40 million paid subscribers in 115 countries. With some 8 million auditioning the service via free trials, the service is gaining ground on its competitors — namely Spotify, which went public on April 3 — at a monthly growth rate of 5% (versus Spotify’s 2%), per a recent report in WSJ.

Read the post on Variety

@lizpelly: The Problem with Musak

The music world continues to be exceedingly vulnerable, and there are looming questions that desperately need to be addressed. Most important: How can artists distribute and sell their work in a digital economy beholden to ruthlessly commercial and centralized interests?

Enter Spotify, a platform that is definitely not the answer. In fact, it only exacerbates such conundrums. Yet for now it has manipulated the vast majority of music industry “players” into regarding it as a saving grace. As the world’s largest streaming music company, its network of paying subscribers has risen sharply in recent years, from five million paid subscribers in 2012 to more than sixty million in 2017. Indeed, the platform has now convinced a critical mass that paying $9.99 per month for access to thirty million songs is a solid, even virtuous idea. Every song in the world for less than your shitty airport meal. What could go wrong?

Billionaires have thrown a lot of money at Spotify. As of September 2017, the platform has been valued at $16 billion by venture capitalists who see it as the next Netflix, and who have perhaps fooled themselves into trusting that this exploitative model will “save the music industry.” Spotify’s endgame, for now, is to go public. The company could be worth $20 billion by next year, when it will likely be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. According to Reuters, Spotify plans to file its intention of a public offering with U.S. regulators before the end of this calendar year and to go public in the first or second quarter of 2018. Bloomberg reports that it recently hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, and Allen & Co. to “assess its options.”

Read the post on The Baffler

@_davidturner_: Spotify Is in the Business of Selling You Spotify, Not Music

Make no mistake—Spotify is only interested in selling you Spotify.

On Monday, the Huffington Post’s contributor platform published a storyby #IRespectMusic founder Blake Morgan, detailing a heated exchange between him and an unidentified Spotify executive that took place in 2014. Titled “Spotify’s Fatal Flaw Exposed: How My Closed-Door Meeting with Execs Ended in a Shouting Match,” the piece was removed from the website hours after posting.

Morgan’s piece was reposted on the Trichordvist, a community blog that is, according to their website, “for those interested in contributing to the advancement of a Sustainable and Ethical Internet for the protection of Artists Rights in the Digital Age.”

Read the post on Track Record