back to article Spotify wants to go public but can't find Ed Sheeran (to pay him)

Spotify has ended five years of speculation about an IPO, and has filed for a public share offering likely to make its founders – and large record labels – extremely rich indeed. But although that giant payday is built on the back of songwriters' "sweat and precog"*, Spotify still has trouble finding them to pay them. Even …

  1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Sounds like a ripe moment for a Class Action

    Nothing stinks up a potential IPO like pending legal attacks.

    An aside - interesting to see that Apple were not listed as dodging the Mechanical Royalties - are they being good or is it an oversight?

    Edit : It appears for Itunes, Apple use a company called tunecore to find who to distribute the Itunes mechanical royalties too. Presumably Apple Music too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like a ripe moment for a Class Action

      Class Action and claims. I wonder if once the claim companies finally exhaust the PPI bandwagon they might start going after unpaid music royalties? I can imagine the advert right now .... "Too busy performing to check if you are owed royalties? You might be owed thousands. Text "check" to us and we will do all the hard work tracking the thieving parasites down."

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a ripe moment for a Class Action

      I am surprised a scumbag lawyer hasnt gone to artists, collect a sum, appear on spotifies doorstep with a list of "requests" for mechanical royalties with teh locations. Afterall, im sure if an artist ASKED for it and provided the necessary legal details (such as a scumbag but still lawyer) then they would have to pay.

  2. Roger Greenwood

    Ed Sheeran

    Is performing in Perth W.A. tonight. Just in case you need to know that. Being 8 hours ahead of the UK, that's on now. Wonder if he's streaming it?

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Ed Sheeran

      Ahh thanks for the warning.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. 404

        Re: Ed Sheeran

        He's some dude who had a bit part in a Game of Thrones episode. Once. A Lannister soldier I think...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't blame spotify, blame shitty record companies and managers shafting artists and the public for years.

    "Kill Your Friends" may have been a poor man's American Psycho but boy does it hit spot on about the music biz.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      No. Blame Spotify. And Google. They're the ones making the revenue based on other peoples' work - and doing their best not to pass any of it on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >No. Blame Spotify. And Google.

        Yeah right and how much did the music biz pay the BBC for free advertising on TOTP and R1, oh wait no they actually expected the BBC to pay them.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        But even when they do pay the record companies they don't hand it over to the artists.

        One record company has been sitting on Moody Blues royalties for 40years claiming that there is a dispute over the original lineup

        1. Alistair


          "One record company has been sitting on Moody Blues royalties for 40years claiming that there is a dispute over the original lineup"

          Whilst Hayward Lodge and Edge are still at it trying to make a living, since the income never came, I'll be level with you, in my wildest dreams there will be a Tuesday afternoon when I'll be riding my see-saw and they'll come down the highway and I'll ge to see them in concert, rising up through the tarmac like ten billion billion butterflys.

  4. JetSetJim Silver badge

    How do the NOIs appear in the accounts?

    If someone were to magically update the copyright office database to be current, what total liability would Spotify incur to pay them? Would it sink Spotify?

    1. Trollslayer

      Re: How do the NOIs appear in the accounts?

      Worth trying just for laughs.

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: How do the NOIs appear in the accounts?

      Or what if Ed phoned Spotify HQ and said 'what about these performance payments?'

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it time Ed Sheeran took a stand and withdrew all his music from Spotify ... then Spotify would have to say "come to us for a guaranteed Swift and Sheeran free musical experience" ... sounds like a compelling USP to me!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That depends on who controls Sheeran's music - the standard contract offered by the labels typically hands them control for a pre-defined period (length varies with how well artist is being advised).

      1. IneptAdept

        Sheeran actually owns all of his own music after his first album.

        He is by all accounts a talented man but also pretty astute in that sense as well

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          indeed. most buskers tend to collect their own money.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    USA Radio

    USA Radio traditionally only pays one of the two royalties.

    The US has a long history of this. Dickens & Tolkien both suffered from USA "piracy".

    They have a cheek with DMCA, DRM and unskippable intros on disks.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: USA Radio

      As did Messers Gilbert and Ulliva . The PIRATES of Penzance was a not so subtle dig at American peactice of the time

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the Spotify IPO could be a really bad investment if the music companies take the opportunity to cash in their share, after which they can turn round and sue for monies owed plus damages and take every penny off the new owners (probably our pension companies etc).

  8. ForthIsNotDead

    Sounds like straight forward piracy to me.


  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Not paying Royaties?

    Yesterday afternoon we invited Spotify to comment , but had not received a response at the time of press.

    They are obviously listening to 'Songs from a Bottom of a Well' (Kevin Ayres 1972) because that is where Spotify belongs for this fraud.

  10. EveryTime

    Wait, how is this a 'Mountain View' issue rather than an 'L.A.' issue?

    Record companies have a long history of screwing over the artists. Starting with lop-sided contracts and then not even paying the modest royalties due. And 'Hollywood accounting' isn't just on movies -- it's same set of accountants.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Because in Orlowskiville, the record and movie companies are poor, innocent salt-of-the-earth types who keep somehow getting taken for a ride by those slick kids from Silicon Valley. Envision Los Angeles as Springfield and Silicon Valley as the Monorail Huckster, and you've pretty much summed up Andrew Orlowski's view of this relationship. It's inconceivable that music industry execs have decided to get in bed with other middle men to extend their perpetual shafting of the artists.

      Not that any of this lets Spotify, et al. off the hook for paying royalties, mind you . . .

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)


        "It's inconceivable that music industry execs have decided to get in bed with other middle men to extend their perpetual shafting of the artists"

        Only to a moron who didn't RTFA, but as usual, your hatred of the writer has clouded your ability to read or think clearly.

        The majors have large equity stakes in Spotify, and will profit hugely from the IPO. As much as $3.39 billion. So the incentives for the majors has been: keep quiet, then cut and run, rather than develop the digital music market for the long term.

        It's all in there. You only have to read, but you prefer to make a clot of yourself.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      This one is a Mountain View issue

      The record companies screw over artists in other ways, perhaps by forcing them to hand over their rights in entirety.

      Spotify et al can't do that, so they've found a new way to avoid paying anyone.

  11. arctic_haze

    Ed Sheeran easy to find?

    Last time I saw him he was hiding in the woods of Westeros singing a new song. Not everyone is as good in spotting him as Arya Stark.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great! Can he piss off now?

    piss off!

  13. veti Silver badge

    If Ed Sheeran is feeling hard up...

    He could always get the Copyright Office database updated.

    Or, just send Spotify a bill.

    And alternative headline for this story would be "Millionaire artists can't be bothered to claim royalties from Spotify". I find it hard to get too indignant about that.

    1. the hatter

      Re: If Ed Sheeran is feeling hard up...

      Surely you realise the problem is not just the few at the top of the tree, those owed 4-, 5-, 6-figure cheques, but the thousand or millions of other artist, each owed maybe $100 from a dozen different companies all working this way. They should have to and shouldn't be expected to have to them spend more time and money to scrape together what the companies already know full-well that they owe.

      Few things I hate more than having to spend half an hour of my time to (probably, or sometimes only possibly) get my hands on a refund worth maybe an hour of my time. But in this case the only reason these companies can stream the music in the first place is because they agreed to compensate the writers in arrears, yet they don't even make good on that obligation; they know they owe Ed $0.001 the instant they start serving the song to a new user, would they prefer to have to make each payment before bing allowed to proceed ?

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: If Ed Sheeran is feeling hard up...

        The entire basis of the story is about not making payments to artists who have a very high profile and can't by any stretch of the imagination be considered hard to trace.

        If we're talking about the other tens of thousands of artists on Spotify, then that complaint doesn't work. This is what the copyright database is for.

        Seriously: if I want to be paid by someone who isn't my direct employer, I have to send them a bill. As far as I know, that's the usual practice for self-employed people. I understand that musicians are in a slightly different position, and that's why they have the copyright database as a funnel set up to help them out; but if they can't be bothered to use it, what are you going to do?

        Would you be any happier if Spotify went out of its way to pay Ed Sheeran, and everyone else who doesn't need it, and then just sat on the money for all those smaller artists?

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: If Ed Sheeran is feeling hard up...

          lawyer. template letter. get list of artists. contact artists. offer services of 10pct. template letter. get spotify to pay. keep 10pct.

          really surprised a sumbag lawyer hasnt done this already.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Maybe El Buzzard can do a story on the moutains of advertising cash it makes on not-yet-removed pirated content on YouTube. Yes they do remove the content when asked but they never return the ill gotten advertising revenue.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Google

      I was more than a little surprised that Google were having trouble finding the relevant copyright holders too. Being a tech company you'd think they'd have heard of the fantastical search engine called Bing!

  15. User4574

    Hell Frozen Over?

    I guess it isn't just London that froze over, hell must be freezing too, because I find myself in agreement with Mr Orlowski.

    Just because the record companies are making a living shafting the artists and holding music to ransom doesn't excuse Spotify et al doing the same thing - two wrongs don't make a right.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems like the tech giants are the new napster. Except of course that they have big pockets, lobbyists, friends in government and almost tax free status....

    Hint - if you're wondering why today's music is shit, its because its almost impossible for artists to make a living from music any more....

  17. whitepines Silver badge

    While I agree creators should be paid for their work, this little gem put a chill up my spine:

    "Nowadays it's possible, via metadata, to log exactly what got played to whom, when, and for rightsholders to be paid accurately."

    That's just ... Orwellian. Whatever happened to "pay once for a record/tape/CD" and the right of first sale? Why should it be a basic assumption that anyone else other than myself and possibly some friends know what I am listening to when or why?

    I thought that part of why Spotify et al. were cheaper than the "purchase" model was that you give them access to all of this free data, maximizing revenue per stream or somesuch? If they are not even paying the artists, sue them all....

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I'd have thought that the first thing you think before hitting play the first time on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Virgin, or Sky is it's all being logged. Even the BBC are at it these days (unless you use Kodi with an iPlayer plugin).

  18. ZPO

    Sounds like an opportunity

    This sounds like a perfect opportunity for a plucky startup. Artists register and provide ownership information. Plucky startup submits that information in the format required by multiple the copyright office and any other source used by media companies. The startup takes some small percentage of royalties paid as their paymnet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like an opportunity

      Obviously it will be based on blockchain technology!

  19. KegRaider

    Why am i paying spotify if they don't pass something back?

    I may as well just go back to finding the music elsewhere, at least it was only one person getting ripped of then....the music company. Now I'm getting ripped off too! LOL

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And what about all the artists rottify doesn't pay because they aren't streamed "enough"?

  21. Malcom Ryder 1

    Thanks for the quote from Mark E Smith

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clean up your biz before any IPO or it will get bloody

    Spotify account details spread all over pastebin, been so for months ,.... and some of the accounts work ...

    And they have 364 days response times on their community forums regarding security breaches:

    And screw over their customers, then don't refund:

    "Allow me to explain you that Spotify works on a revenue share model to a large extent.

    The artists, composers and other rights holders of Spotify content are paid a share of Spotify revenues - the great majority, in fact. The reason that the subscription payment cannot normally be refunded after you have logged in and used the service (or after 14 days has passed) is that after this point the accounting system has registered this as incoming revenue. "


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