Since its creation and U.S. release, Spotify has changed the way we listen to music, enabling us to listen to any song whenever we want. But not everyone is happy with the company. One music publishing company is suing Spotify for $1.6 billion.
Wixen Music Publishing has released music by artists like Weezer, Tom Petty, and Neil Young. In a lawsuit filed on December 29th, the company alleged that Spotify was using music from its artists without obtaining the proper license or paying royalties to the publisher. More than 10,000 songs are included in the suit, and Wixen is suing for damages of $150,000 per song.
In the suit, Wixen alleged that Spotify failed to get a license from the publishing company that would allow it to distribute the songs. The suit also stated that Spotify used a third party to handle its licensing and royalties but that this agency was “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.”
Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in the industry, with more than 60 million paid subscribers. It is reportedly worth $19 billion, and it is expected to start selling stock this year.
This is not the first time Spotify has encountered legal trouble. In May, the music streaming service agreed to pay $43 million to settle a class action suit filed by songwriters including David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. In 2016, it was forced to pay $30 million in unpaid royalties to music publishers who were members of the National Music Publisher’s Association.
Some stars have even argued that music streaming itself isn’t fair to artists. Taylor Swift became an outspoken opponent of streaming services in 2014, when she pulled her music from Spotify. Swift’s absence from Spotify wasn’t permanent, though; in June, her music returned to Spotify.
Songwriters and music publishers deserve to be compensated for their work, even when it’s being streamed. We hope that Spotify finds a way to continue providing the many features we love while making sure that artists and publishers are paid fairly.