Spotify’s Auto-Play Means Less Royalty For Songwriters
An astute observation by Billboard:
Although songwriters, publishers, or everyday people may not be aware, Spotify — like YouTube — has now moved to a model that auto-plays songs after a user listens to one they selected. […]
On the plus side, what this does is keep listeners engaged on the site, which is a benefit that Spotify likes. And it has the potential to turn listeners on to more music, a benefit that all rights owners, publishers, songwriters, labels and artists should like. And it steers payments to artists and songwriters whose songs weren’t chosen to be played.
But it represents a downside in per-stream payments for songwriters and artists, too. Since the payout pool is divided by streams, the more streams that occur in a month, the further the per-stream payout decreases. In addition to songs that users choose to play, their devices will automatically play other songs after they hear the song they wanted. Who knows how many additional plays accrue due to automation — but it’s safe to say those plays are further diluting the per-stream payout for artists and songwriters whose songs the consumer chooses to play.
I also believe Spotify’s auto-played songs fall under ‘non-interactive streaming’ (AKA ‘internet radio’). This means that mechanical royalty does not apply. So this auto-play feature may partly serve to lessen a user’s amount of ‘interactive’ streams, allowing the platform the decrease its overall royalty pay-out.
Please correct me if I’m wrong. But if I’m right, and you’re a Spotify user, maybe think about turning off the auto-play mechanism in the app’s settings.
Spotify is “Effectively Suing Songwriters”
Yesterday (March 7), it emerged that four major owners of digital music services – Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora – had lodged legal appeals against the US Copyright Royalty Board’s recent decision to raise streaming royalties for songwriters (and music publishers) by 44%. That royalty rise, which previously looked locked in, is now in serious jeopardy.
Apple Music, in contrast, has accepted the new rates, and declined to challenge what’s viewed as an important pay hike for songwriters.
Remember when Kendrick Lamar and (reportedly) other artists threatened to pull music from Spotify over the arbitrary ‘hate conduct’ ban policy? Spotify quickly backtracked. This might be another opportunity for artists to show Spotify and the streaming industry who really needs who more.
And, as with privacy, Apple continues to brand themselves as the company that does the right thing. I’ll contain my cynicism (which I have for any corporate organization) and say ‘good on them.’
Per the fiscal 2017 filing, SoundCloud has taken “significant steps to improve its financial health,” including renegotiating certain rightsholder contracts, retiring outstanding debt and cutting major operating expenses, and it achieved positive operating cash flow in 2018.
While its 2018 results will not be available until later this year, SoundCloud says it has surpassed its 2018 growth plan and remains focused on two major ideas: expanding its creator business with a suite of useful artist tools and offering a unique listening experience for its “young, trendsetting, global music fans.” The latter will be increasingly tough as Spotify, Apple Music and other big streaming services solidify their place as market leaders, but the former — a focus on music creation — is something in which SoundCloud remains unsurpassed.
SoundCloud is a popular subject on this blog and, yes, there was a time when we contemplated the service’s possible demise. It’s astonishing that SoundCloud once made a go at Spotify and Apple Music, and the ensuing failure was arguably the direct result of an overreach to attract a mass audience.
I’d say ‘SoundCloud rap’ saved the platform’s bacon. This phenomenon was bubbling hard during the depths of SoundCloud’s financial woes and surely pointed the way out: by doubling down on a core user-base of