Spotify is widely loved by fans of music, but artists have long had issues with the platform. Music lovers enjoy the ability to listen to their favorite artists for little to no money, but artists have always been frustrated by the thought that fans would be able to listen to an unlimited amount of music in a month for the price of just one album. These complaints have been happening informally since Spotify was founded, but now they are taking the form of a new lawsuit that seeks more than a billion and a half dollars in damages.
The company suing Spotify is Wixen Music Publishing Inc. The company is a licensing firm that owns the rights to songs by a wide range of artists. Songs from artists like Tom Petty, Weezer, and The Doors have allegedly been used by Spotify without proper authorization from Wixen. The company represents more than fifty thousand songs that have been produced by over two thousand artists. The sheer volume of the work they own means that the chances of at least one of their songs ending up on the site without proper authorization were high, but the level of the accusation made by the company shows that they feel that they have experienced much more than a minor violation.
The firm behind the suit states that anyone who wants to use their songs needs to get the proper license from Wixen. The publishing firm isn’t claiming that Spotify knowingly tried to defraud it. They point out that Spotify uses another, smaller company to seek out the rights to the music that it streams on its service. The use of a third-party contractor makes sense given the sheer volume of music that Spotify needs to process on a regular basis to keep up with musical trends, but it seems that the third party might not have done their due diligence and procured the necessary licenses.
Spotify isn’t taking these accusations sitting down. They’ve already fired back at Wixen, making demands of their own. They are taking advantage of the fact that Wixen represents such a diverse and scattered clientele. Connecting all of them to create a unified front would be next to impossible for the publishing giant, which is why Wixen says that they don’t need to jump through the hoops that Spotify is trying to put in front of them. The legal battle has just begun, but it is already shaping up to be one that will run for a long time and go through many twists and turns.
This isn’t the first time that Spotify has faced such accusations. The company just finished a lengthy legal struggle, settling a class action lawsuit by agreeing to pay $43 million dollars to artists that didn’t receive the royalties that they were owed. In fact, the Wixen lawsuit came out of that original class action suit. They felt that they hadn’t been properly compensated after those $43 million dollars were split between the many different artist and firms that had worked together to file the class action suit.
Despite this legal drama Spotify continues to grow in popularity and perceived value. Still, only time will tell how this latest court battle will play out. The chances that Spotify will pay over a billion dollars in damages is next to zero, but even after bargaining, the service might have to pay millions of dollars to atone for legal lapses. But as long as the profits outpace the fees it might end up as just another cost of doing business in the gray areas of modern streaming.