Why famous music composers boycott the music platform Spotify?

Authors: Inga Lukauskiene, Associated Partner, Attorney-at-law, Patent Attorney at METIDA, Court Mediator; Mykolas Jakutis, Senior Lawyer, Assistant Attorney-at-Law at METIDA

14001974_1248894241798542_2127717341_o[1]Today the choice and accessibility of musical works is probably the greatest in the history of mankind. Nowadays, millions of people listen to music through different music platforms, i.e. Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, Youtube and many other platforms, every day. Unfortunately, the majority of music fans are satisfied that the musical works uploaded on the Internet must be free of charge. The Swedish company Spotify AB established in 2008 which has developed the legal music platform Spotify to this end has tried to change such attitude of illegal music lovers. As of 2013 this service is also available to the consumers of Lithuania.

What is Spotify?

Simply put, Spotify is a virtual music library, the main feature of which is that all musicians are legally accessible. Spotify has concluded contracts with such companies as Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, Universal and other large music companies and many independent performers. Famous performers of Lithuania also upload their music in this platform.

Today Spotify publishes that this service is available in 57 countries and it has over 100 million active users including 30 million of users who have chosen the free version of the application (Premium subscription) which allows not only to listening to music indefinitely and without any commercials, but also enables to synchronise songs using all kinds of devices, i.e. mobile phones, tablet PCs etc. The users who have Premium version of the application are also able to download and save songs and listen to them even without the Internet access. Nevertheless, downloading of musical works is not the same as downloading of songs from unlawful torrent websites. Having downloaded songs using Spotify application, songs in your chosen device will be available as long as the person uses Spotify application. If the person refuses the paid service plan, all downloaded content will automatically disappear from the device.

Nevertheless, the risk that consumers will try to save the content downloaded from Spotify without paying the subscription fee always persists. Different applications such as Wondershare TunesGo which enables downloading the desired songs from the music library Spotify and using them completely free of charge and without any restrictions are commonly used on the Internet already today.

In contrast to such platforms as Youtube, only real authors may upload their pieces of work in the platform Spotify, since all necessary information is verified at the moment of uploading, thus, preventing illegal business of pieces of work.

An answer to the question if Spotify reduces music piracy would definitely “yes” and “rather significantly”. As the possibility to acquire pieces of music or unlawfully reproduce them has increased, it is evident that there is no longer any need to do this illegally; thus, it may be concluded that Spotify and other similar legal music platforms provide all conditions for preventing music piracy. Such conclusion is also supported by statistical data which shows that recently the number of users of lawful content has continuously increased. Public awareness is likely to increase and intellectual property works are more and more often treated as any other paid products or services.

Boycott of Spotify: reasons and consequences

Certainly, the platform Spotify has certain drawbacks. Some authors of musical works and performers are not satisfied with the royalties paid by Spotify for runs through of songs. For example, Taylor Swift who is one of the most popular female performers and whose pieces of work are sold best has refused to cooperate with Spotify, as she accused it of unfair behaviour with performers. The most recent album “25” of the British performer Adele also has not been distributed in this music platform. And this just a few examples of the performers who, for one reason or another, decided not to upload their pieces of work in this platform.

Although some performers rebuke that the portion of profit to the authors of music is too small, Spotify gives around 70 per cent of all funds generated from the users who pay for the service and commercials to the copyright holders. It is evident that the lawfully operating Spotify is more beneficial to the listeners of music than to the performers. The respective amount (from USD 0.006 to USD 0.0084) is paid to the author of the piece of work for each run through of a song; thus, in order to obtain tangible effects, the song should be run through hundred thousand times and the majority of works are not run through so many times. It is worth noting that today Spotify has already 30 million users who pay for the services and the number of users is constantly increasing; obviously, the greater the number of users of Spotify who pay for the service, the greater the amount of funds received by the authors.

Other authors of songs believe that Spotify and other similar platforms result in a decrease of sale of music in other formats, i.e. vinyl records, compact discs, digital mp3 records what leads to a decrease in the profit received by the authors. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the performer uploads his pieces of work on the Internet, a major part of listeners are willing to have not only the electronic album version, but also to have it as a souvenir in the form of a compact disc or vinyl record.

 The sceptics of online music platforms should also consider if removal of the pieces of work from electronic platforms would not encourage piracy. For example, the album of the performer Beyonce “Lemonade” which was released on 23 April 2016 was not available in the platform Spotify and after several days the album was among the five top albums illegally downloaded from the largest BitTorrent website in the world, i.e. The Pirate Bay. Therefore, it is evident that as performers restrict access to their released albums in legal music platforms, in most cases, this would encourage listeners to search for and download musical works from unlawful websites.

Taking into account the numerous aspects, it could be safely assumed that although Spotify and other analogous legal music platforms are not preferred by some performers, such platforms are definitely an alternative to music piracy. The advantage of use of legal music platforms is safety, since such way of listening to music allows you to be assured that your activity is lawful and avoid risk of downloading virus-infected files.

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