Spotify may be in hot water over its activity around New Orleans’s Essence Festival of Culture – an event that celebrates Black music and culture.

The festival is suing Spotify claiming that the streaming service used its branding without permission last year. The Guardian has the details.

This appears to be a case of a partnership gone sour. Spotify hosted a ‘House of Are & Be’ venue in New Orleans for the festival’s 2019 edition, and the lawsuit notes that this was part of an official agreement with Essence, before negotiations over a longer-term relationship.

After a Covid-19-enforced break for the event, Spotify’s House of Are & Be returned in 2022 to the same venue.

However, Essence’s lawsuit claims that the necessary permissions – required to hold related events within a certain zone in the city during the festival – had not been renewed.

“Yet another example of the historic, intentional exploitation of Black culture, Black [intellectual property], Black creators, Black businesses and Black equity,” said James Williams, who is heading the festival’s legal team.

Spotify has yet to respond publicly, but we’ll update this story if it does.

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