Spotify sued for $150m by musicians over alleged unpaid royalties

Spotify is being sued for at least $150m by a collective of musicians who allege that the streaming site has knowingly and willingly reproduced and distributed their music without permission, Billboard reports.

David Lowery, frontman of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, is leading the suit, filed at California’s central district court in Los Angeles on 28 December by the law firm Michelman & Robinson LLP.

Almond Grove, Get on Down the Road, King of Bakersfield and Tonight I Cross the Border were all made available to Spotify’s 75 million users, the suit alleges, but did not attempt to notify the rights holders.

Spotify is understood to have reserved as much as $25m to settle royalty disputes. The suit brought by Lowery is a class action, which means other musicians can join the suit if they identify their work on Spotify without permission.

“We are committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny,” said Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s global head of comms and public policy. “Unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholders is often missing, wrong, or incomplete. When rightsholders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities.

“We are working closely with the National Music Publishers Association to find the best way to correctly pay the royalties we have set aside and we are investing in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve this problem for good.”

Cracker’s Almond Grove, which the band’s frontman David Lowery alleges was used on Spotify without permission

The royalties paid by streaming services has come under intense scrutiny from artists, who claim payments are too low. Mariah Carey’s seasonal apparition All I Want for Christmas Is You was played 9.1m times globally in the seven days before Christmas, generating $66k in royalties.

On Christmas Eve, Spotify finally announced a deal to bring the Beatles to the service.

Powered by article was written by Jemima Kiss, for on Tuesday 29th December 2015 20.59 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010