Ding ding! Round… well, we’re not sure what round we’re into now if the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and Spotify were having a boxing match. But the slugs keep on coming. Remember how Spotify announced that it had “overpaid most publishers” in 2018, under the latest royalty rates set in the US by the Copyright Royalties Board? Yes, the same rates that the company and some of its rivals were appealing. Well, now the NMPA has hit back, sending a letter to Spotify (which simultaneously found its way into the inboxes of media outlets) claiming that it’s wrong.
“Spotify has made a faulty reading of its family plan discount and without explanation sent music publishers and songwriters the bill,” said president David Israelite. The letter proceeded to set out its workings: part of the argument being whether a ‘family plan’ should only include actual family members (the NMPA believes this is the legal requirement for a streaming service to qualify for discounts) or simply people living at the same address (the model used by Spotify).
It’s not just Spotify on the receiving end of the NMPA’s wrath this week, however. It has also sent a letter to Amazon about its interpretation of the CRB rates. “Amazon has concocted a scheme where its Prime Music service is priced so low, songwriters will reap almost no royalties from its platform,” said Israelite. “This violates the law that protects songwriters work from being bundled with other offerings and essentially used for free.” Billboard has some good detail on the nitty-gritty of these arguments. The NMPA has asked both companies to respond by 9 September.