Musician and artists’ rights campaigner David Lowery has written to the attorney general of New York calling for an investigation into unpaid songwriter royalties from streaming service Spotify.
His move follows the company’s recent public dispute with Victory Records, and wider industry debate about making songs available to stream even if the songwriters weren’t being paid.
Lowery, who says that more than 150 songs he wrote for his bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven are not properly licensed by Spotify despite being available on the service, thinks the situation is comparable to an investigation in 2004 when the New York attorney general pursued major labels and won $50m of unclaimed royalties for performers.
“I see no difference between the 2004 situation regarding record companies and the 2015 situation involving digital services,” wrote Lowery. “I think that highly sophisticated and well-funded high-tech digital services like Spotify and Google should be held to at least the same standard as the record companies regarding unpaid royalties if not a higher standard—if licensees don’t know who to pay, then why are they using the music in the first place?”