Music artists are losing billions because small businesses use personal Apple Music or Spotify accounts

“Artists and record companies lose $2.7 billion in revenue annually because small business owners typically stream music from personal accounts at cafes or barber shops rather than a commercial-use license,” Kim McLaughlin reports for Bloomberg.

“Music makers earn a lot more when their tunes are aired in restaurants, stores and other business venues to help drum up extra trade,” McLaughlin reports. “Consumer streaming services, such as from Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc., don’t include those rights, according to a Nielsen study.”

“Nielsen Music interviewed about 5,000 small-business owners in the U.S. U.K., Sweden, Spain, Italy, Germany and France and found that 83 percent of those that play background music incorrectly use personal accounts. Nielsen estimates 21.3 million businesses use consumer services globally, costing artist billions in lower payouts,” McLaughlin reports. “A cafe or a shop pays about $35 a month for a commercial license, compared with about $10 for a consumer service.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What about those bastages who play iPods (or, God forbid, CDs) on shuffle and/or repeat!


  1. you would think this would be easily detectable by comparing the users age, location (always the same business location), time (business hours) and quantity of plays (8 hours a day weekdays but not weekends).

    1. It is impossible for law enforcement to monitor every business in the land on a daily basis to make sure musicians get paid fairly.

      Parallel construction example my local Irish pub has movie night every Tuesday for 30 years. They buy or rent the movies to play above the bar and the actors don’t get royalties.

      Also, they have a jukebox connected to the internet that pays royalties. They also have a private receiver and Sirius XM account hot wired to play music and no royalties.

      Not saying it is right for any artist in both professions to lose income they deserve. Just saying this is so widespread and as of now, enforcement controls are lax at best…

  2. This is the same for bars that use TV (sports) as part of their business. They don’t have regular cable/satellite accounts since they are in effect reselling the broadcast.

    Back in the day businesses that couldn’t afford Muzak just put on a good FM station.

    1. Cable and Satellite businesses tried to stop bars from showing NFL games… until the Beer companies stepped in and stoped it. Since they were the major advisers, they had a vested interest in having people sitting in bars watch NFL and drinking their product. So when you hear about lost money in the music industry, it’s really more about how much are they “really” losing. it’s all relative.

      1. You’re mistaken. It was the NFL that required added revenue.

        Even if you pay for a game at your own home and have a party asking people to chip in for beer and steaks you technically violated their viewing agreement.

    2. Years agoI remember hearing the labels (through some music association) were even hassling businesses playing the radio. They were trying to claim that the “licence” inherent to the broadcast medium did not include commercial rights. This never made any sense to me. Broadcasting is by definition a transmission from one to many. And each listener is receiving both the content and the advertising (the “product” and the “payment” in the transaction).

  3. You mean if left unchecked the human & business owner impulse to pay less and get away with something if they can they will do, rather than do the honorable thing?

    Shocking I tell you! Shocking!

  4. LOL. Free enterprise is whining over loss of future revenue when any business’ fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits is the very core of Free Enterprise practices that encourages you to violate the laws you helped write and agreements you signed on to until authorities catch you.

  5. This article is very misleading. There are several organizations that own the right to sell copyrights to music. If you have any form of music in a business including churches, they can by law force you to pay each of them based on occupancy, live or not, frequency, etc. Even you only have TVs for watching sports you have to pay these organizations for music. They don’t even have to prove that any of their music is being played. This cost can run into thousands a year. They have people investigating establishments and even showing in person.

  6. Wow, talk about greedy artist.

    If I’m at work and listen to Spotify as I usually do, that’s okay. If I put that music through my stereo and the other employees can hear it while they work, they want more money. Is that an EAR tax? How dumb.

    You’re getting money for your music to be played and it’s not the prime reason people come to your business, it’s background.

    Subscription madness. Stop paying for the madness. Pirate the music if they keep up the madness. Or buy it once, rip it and play it at your store forever.

  7. what·a·bout·ism
    the technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counteraccusation or raising a different issue.
    “the parliamentary hearing appeared to be an exercise in whataboutism”

    The entitlement here knows no bounds.

  8. This is similar to how Adobe lost so much money because of all the pirated Photoshop that was available to people that downloaded it that had really no use for it and never would have bought it in the first place.

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