The U.S. vs. Spotify
Why is the entire government dragging Daniel Ek? Plus Dr. Dre NFTs, Vevo Hack, Sex Pistols TV Trailer and Genesis' Final Show
Nobody said that being a generational-defining tech billionaire would be easy, but one could almost feel sorry for Spotify CEO Daniel Ek when you realize that all three branches of the U.S. federal government are up his ass. Perhaps it didn’t fluster the Swedish citizen when the White House stepped into the Joe Rogan COVID misinformation controversy back in February. But now both the legislative and judicial branches could be having their way with the founder in ways that are less public but harder to ignore.
The one thing Ek will be absolutely unable to ignore is a three-hour deposition ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee regarding an ongoing lawsuit filed by Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style. For 180 minutes (or one Joe Rogan podcast), Ek will be compelled to answer questions posed by hostile lawyers that bring into question the very licensing and reporting upon which Spotify’s entire legal right to stream music in the U.S. is based. Fun, right?
Meanwhile, some members of Congress have their own bone to pick with Spotify, which they expressed via a letter regarding the company’s highly publicized Discovery Mode, a feature that allows artists to receive preferential treatment from various recommendation touchpoints in the app in exchange for receiving a lower royalty rate. This has rubbed several legislators the wrong way for various reasons, but it ultimately comes to the concern that “if two competing artists enroll in their newest track in the program, any benefit could be canceled out, meaning that the only profit goes to your company’s bottom line.”
Perhaps out of concern for future pushback against their music internally-driven recommendation features, Spotify is developing more tools that empower users to drive discovery. The Blend playlist feature has been upgraded to allow up to 10 users to all contribute to the same list. It will now also allow artist profiles to take part in the collaboration. And a new Featured Curator, um, feature, is being tested to promote “popular user and influencer playlists” alongside Spotify’s own curated playlists.
Ek must also be relieved that at least his company’s paid promotion service isn’t unintentionally promoting porn, unlike Twitch.
But perhaps the best news for Ek is actually coming from Amazon Music, which announced that it’s increasing the price of its Unlimited tier for Prime Subscribers by one dollar (from $7.99/mo. to $8.99/mo.). Given the usual rigidity of pricing in the highly competitive world of music streaming, where other plays like Apple and Amazon can afford perpetual losses that Spotify cannot, Spotify’s inability to raise its base price is part of what’s driven it to nickel and dime artists with programs like Discovery Mode in the first place.
Of course, if Slim Shady has his way with Spotify, it could alter the economics of streaming for the entire industry.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Salient statements from this week’s music news.
The venues saved from the repo man represent the heart of live music in tertiary markets.
Takeaway: Geiger, who was a cofounder of the Lollapalooza festival, said the plan was to invest in small clubs and build an indie touring network by acquiring a 51% ownership stake in the venues in question, although a rep for the company that is not the case for all of the partnerships…
The Doggfather recently teased the idea of releasing “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” as an NFT, although his ability to do so is being questioned by Dr. Dre’s lawyers.
Takeaway: All new Death Row Records releases will be NFTs, but it’s sounding like classics are headed that way, too.
3. Vevo To ‘Review’ Security After YouTube Feeds For Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber, And Others Were Hacked
The breach allowed an unauthorized user to upload unrelated content to potentially be seen by hundreds of millions of subscribers.
Takeaway: The artists or the people who operate their pages were likely unable to do anything about the issue.
It’s easy to see why Johnny Rotten tried to litigate this out of existence, but we’re still gonna watch.
Takeaway: In the trailer, news footage from the era highlights the band’s status as riotous pranksters and antagonists of the British institution, with Johnny Rotten (Anson Boon) and a wild-eyed Sid Vicious (Louis Partridge) at the helm.