Spotify continues to take the most flak from the US music-publishing community over its recent decision to appeal against new songwriter royalty-rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) – co-appealers Pandora, Google and Amazon are getting off lightly by comparison. But them’s the breaks when you’re the biggest player in the (audio) streaming space: Spotify won’t be surprised at former Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier’s latest criticism of its decision.
“It was the first time in maybe 10 years that we got an increase of any kind. And lo and behold, on the last day to appeal, Spotify appealed,” said Bandier, during an interview for the graduating class of the Syracuse University program named after him, which Variety reported on. “It’s important to understand that [the CRB ruling] is almost impossible to overturn — you would have to show fraud or that somehow the math was wrong. I think it was the dumbest PR move ever. The entire industry, music publishers and songwriters, have risen together. All it does is cost the publishers and ultimately the songwriters a huge amount of money for legal fees.”
Bandier returned to a criticism of Spotify’s internal spending that’s been made a few times in the last year: “They have to figure out how to make money, but maybe they should start in their own house and figure out how to save money in general overhead instead of the royalties they pay out. If I ran a business and had that type of overhead I would have been fired a long time ago,” said Bandier. “You just can’t do that and expect to be successful.” He went on to suggest that while some Spotify staff have “called me and sort-of off-the-record apologised… I’ve never gotten a call from Daniel Ek. He’s the head of the largest subscription service and I’ve never heard from him.” Oof.
For balance, Bandier did also acknowledge the role of Spotify in driving the market for paid music subscriptions. “I’ve lived through bad times and good times — and today, the business is flourishing. Clearly everything is being driven by streaming and paid subscriptions: Spotify announced today they have 100 million paying subscribers and Apple is somewhere close to 60 million,” he said. “Analysts in the industry believe that the paid subscriber base will continue to grow through 2030. And it’s not only the growth of paid subscriptions —there’s a strong tail wind in publishing as well.”