We’ve all seen the kabuki dance from various sources that support the central theme of why digital services don’t pay songwriters consistently: If there was only this central database in the sky, then all would be solved. This has been the theme since the Napster lawsuits–if you can’t tell anyone what you own, then they’ll just use it without permission or payment.
If you look a 16th of an inch below the surface in most cases, you’ll see that even if such a database existed, it would not solve the problem most of the time. The problem isn’t that services can’t find the owner, the problem is that services use the songs anyway.
The database argument would sound a lot better if it was about holes in the offerings of services offering millions of tracks. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the service said, because there is no authoritative database, we can’t offer all the world’s music?
But they don’t do that. They rarely ever don’t use the songs. The problem is that they blow past the getting a license stage.
By the way–this would not solve Spotify’s problem with Victory Records and its affiliated publisher. Spotify knows who to pay, they’re apparently just not paying them. How would an “authoritative database” solve that problem? It wouldn’t.
So having created extraordinary amounts of bad press over their braindead handling of a $23,000 issue, the Spotify PR machine is now in high gear trying to get back on message as Billboard reports:
Regardless of what occurred with Audiam and Victory, sources familiar with Spotify’s stance on the issue say the company’s management is aware of the problem surrounding proper payments to publishers and songwriters and is involved in discussions to not only ensure that the current outstanding payments get to where they are supposed to go, but is interested in working with publishers and the NMPA to resolve the issue.
Let’s play the unnamed source game–who might be someone who is a “source familiar with Spotify’s stance on the issue” who would know what the “company’s management” is aware of (knowledge), and that the “company’s management is involved in discussions.”
Want to play “guess the source”? Gee…who might that be? My bet is that behind door #3 is that old triangulator himself, Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s resident Washington revolving doorman, Clintonista and all round flack.
Desperately trying to get back on the message that has been so carefully refined since the Verge “leak” of Spotify’s Sony agreement. “Regardless of the fact that Spotify is acting like a petulant child, knowingly interfering with contract, maybe massively infringing and is using its monopoly position in streaming to cram down terms by forcing publishers off the service, the problem isn’t Spotify, let’s not forget it’s actually the songwriters’ fault.”