Veteran music business writer Stuart Dredge interviews David Lowery in an insightful journey through the more subtle aspects of David’s role in solving the music publishing problem in America. It gave him a chance to bring out nuances in the Spotify class action:
[Lowery] adds that a number of songwriters and independent publishers are keen to see whether HFA is playing a role in the NMPA/Spotify settlement, including the elements relating to publisher audits of the streaming service.
“We asked for a third-party audit [in the class-action lawsuit] – a real third-party audit. I haven’t seen the NMPA settlement, but I see no indication that there is a third-party audit involved,” says Lowery.
“HFA were on both sides of the equation: they were representing the publishers, and they were representing Spotify. Generally in history, that’s a recipe for mischief. A lot of people are going to be uncomfortable if HFA is somehow part of the audit.”
Spotify complains of licensing, but opposed letting ASCAP and BMI expand licensing for streamers through relief from the Justice Department:
Lowery adds that he feels sympathy for Spotify, as it may have thought that it had the mechanicals headache sorted. However, he also points to another possible solution – proposals a couple of years ago to allow collecting societies ASCAP and BMI to license mechanicals – and notes that Spotify opposed the idea.
“It’s interesting that in Spotify’s comments [published at the time], they talk about this problem – so obviously they were aware of it – but they opposed something that could get them out of this problem, which was to let ASCAP and BMI license mechanicals,” he says.
[Here is the Spotify filing that Lowery is referring to, and the relevant section: “A licensing regime in which public performance rights and mechanical reproduction rights could be obtained from a single source or pursuant to a single license is an interesting idea and could in theory lead to efficiencies. However, the current system where the PROs are subject to regulation via the consent decrees is working well so reform may not be necessary.”)
A must read for all artists, songwriters and music publishers: