Newswise — As the Swedish site Spotify prepares to go public at an estimated value of $19 billion, it is important to note how the streaming model has profoundly uprooted music distribution not only for listeners, but for musicians and rights holders as well.
Peter Krapp, University of California, Irvine film & media studies professor and informatics faculty affiliate, can talk about both perspectives.
- As a direct consequence of the growing popularity of music streaming over the internet, listeners have easy access to music, but do not actually control the tunes.
- This model also fundamentally changes music discovery, as algorithms explore on your behalf which songs may relate to other songs.
Musicians and rights holders:
- Led by Wixen Music Publishing, musicians and rights holders are suing Spotify for copyright infringement to the tune of $1.6 billion, related to songs by artists such as Tom Petty, Neil Young, The Doors, Steely Dan, Weezer, Rage Against the Machien and Missy Elliott, on the grounds that the songs are being served up unlicensed.
- Spotify settled one lawsuit for $43 million in July, claiming that it didn't need to obtain mechanical rights, only public performance licenses for music streams, since no actual distribution of copies occurred. The company is still facing three other lawsuits, demonstrating not only the technical complications involved, but also that the legal fight will continue even after the IPO.
"Spotify competes with a range of other streaming services, including Pandora, Apple and Tidal, all of which are dealing with royalties differently," Krapp says. "Both the impending IPO and the various lawsuits also raise complex questions about how exactly U.S. copyright laws should apply to a Swedish website."
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