Apple is the real winner in Spotify’s battle against paying songwriters more

“Streaming giant Spotify, after years of attempting to woo the songwriting community, is now at the front of an effort to pay it less,” Jem Aswad and Shirley Halperin report for Variety. “It’s a move that has seen the company, the market leader with 87 million worldwide subscribers, hand second-place Apple, with an estimated 43.5 million subs, an opportunity to make up ground.”

“At issue is the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 decision to raise the rate paid to songwriters by 44% over the next five years. Spotify, along with three other streaming services — Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora — is appealing that decision to the board, a move that has no direct precedent,” Aswad and Halperin report. “The four companies have been shellacked with criticism by artists for their action… Apple, which would also benefit if the rate increase is nullified, is not part of the appeal.”

“Apple is most certainly winning the PR war, and as any seasoned entertainment executive would tell you, perception is everything,” Aswad and Halperin report. “As a sign of how badly the PR war is going [for Spotify], many songwriters are canceling Spotify subscriptions and doing so publicly on social media, where they make sure to note their subscription fees will now be going to Apple Music.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Message: Unlike Spotify, Pandora, et al., Apple cares about songwriters.

If the appeal fails:

The big losers here are Spotify and Pandora. Apple, Amazon, and Google each have enough money to pay songwriters 15.1% until the end of time.MacDailyNews, January 29, 2018

Apple will not appeal songwriter royalty increase, digital music competitors Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon – March 7, 2019
Spotify, Apple, YouTube lose as Copyright Royalty Board raises streaming music royalty rates – January 29, 2018


  1. Spotify should just raise prices. People like Spotify. I suspect they wouldn’t mind paying a bit more. Besides, you get Hulu as well. With Apple Music, you pay about the same, but no movies and tv. And you can get Spotify free with commercials.

    Heh, some times people click themselves into paying for Apple Music and finally, after months, ask if I,know what the charge is,for.

    1. Spotify is a one-trick pony, which is why they will likely need to raise prices, and that will really hurt them. Sure, many will pay more, but it is a highly price sensitive market with kids (just ask mine!)… Spotify will lose customers to Apple and they know it, should they be forced to raise prices.

      Apple keeps gaining ground month after month and Spotify is about to get financially squeezed (more than they already are).

      This pain will only intensify once Apple TV+ hits the market, and Apple starts their own bundling game.

      Add to this Apple is continuing its march with the likelihood of acquiring VIACOM or Sony Pictures = huge back catalogs. If someone is with Spotify, but gets Apple TV +, they’ll get offers for Apple Music and/or will be more likely to switch. Apple can watch and see what is effective in promotions.

      Update iCloud to something decent and toss it in for free when such and such a bundle is subscribed to, and oh yes, give 3 or 6 month free Apple Music trials when signing up for Apple Card, or allowing the instant cash back (AKA daily cash) to be applied to an Apple Music Subscription, or Apple TV + or a bundle..

      Spotify’s interface is superior to Apple Music, but not by leaps and bounds, and that simply won’t hold up against Apple’s myriad of services, services bundles and flexibility over time.

      In two years the music streaming industry is likely to look quite different, and Spotify may look to be acquired by Apple or Amazon or Google (who needs them most, but will likely screw it up, like so many other properties they acquire or create).

  2. MacDailyNews Take: Message: Unlike Spotify, Pandora, et al., Apple cares about {songwriters} CRUSHING THE COMPETITION.

    GET REAL Apple don’t care about song writers or artist they are not actively fighting for the artist. They are just sitting back knowing the decision for them is affordable but for the competition it’s going to make their service model much harder to run without raising prices.

    This is typical corporate moves and has zero to do with the creatives who are nothing more than pawns in global corporate managers.

    If Apple cared about Artist they would never have chopped up artist albums to sell piecemeal in bits on iTunes (their idea and without artists full consent) and they did it for their own model and not for the good of the artist album, journey or musical experience. It was purely to sell millions of musical bits all to play on their profit-making iPods and iPhones.

    NO Apple is no kind of hero in this!
    They are just sitting back rubbing their hands, The richest company in the world will soon again own all the music in the world but now in the streaming market.

    1. I’m not disagreeing with your cynacism re: Apple caring about songwriters, but in point of fact, record companies (who own the recordings) were the ones who agreed to the “piecemeal” approach. When dealing with the recording, record companies have near-absolute power on how they are sold — and looking at the record industry over the past two decades, that decision does not seem to have hurt album sales at all. I don’t know if you are aware, but there was a thing called “singles” back before you were born … songs have always been sold “piecemeal” and indeed originally that was the ONLY way they were sold — for roughly the first 25 years of the modern recording industry.

      At least at the time the iTunes Store rolled out, selling per-song was an absolute necessity to lower the cost of entry and get the public used to the idea of buying non-physical objects, and it worked terrificly well. Again, where’s your evidence that album sales have been hurt in any way? As a point of fact, the iTunes Store generally makes it very attractive to buy the entire album, by pricing the unit lower than the cost of buying all the songs individually (depending on the album, this can result in a serious savings) and also generally lower than buying the physical CD.

      In short, your thesis is flatly and provably wrong. Now if you’d said iTunes killed the SINGLES market, you’d have been right …

      1. The biggest problem with music-streaming services (Apple Music included) is how the money is divided up.
        All the subscription fees etc are put into “one big pot,” and then divided among artists based on their percentage of the whole. The play-bland-pop-formula artists will get the most money no matter how you divide it, but this approach favors them even more than an alternative, more fair, way.

        That alternative? Divide up each subscriber’s money based on what they listen to, instead of putting it all in one big pool first. So, let’s say a small artist has 100 big fans, each paying $10/month, who exclusively listen to that artist (but not many other users listen). That artists gets their share out of the $1000/month that group pays. Guess what? That’s going to be a LOT more than their 100 users per 40 million users share from the “one big pot” method.
        This “share divided first” method would allow dedicated listeners to support small artists to the point where they don’t starve. And, it just makes sense. Why should ANY of the money someone pays go to artists they don’t listen to? Divide up the money based on what that user listens to. There’s no good technical excuse not to.

        So, I’d hope that Apple pushes for this, as it would be much more fair, and would support a more diverse interesting range of music.

  3. To be fair, I don’t think Apple abstained from opposing the motion just because they “care about songwriters.” I think they did a smart business calculation about this — the increase is likely inevitable, the appeal will likely fail, we’ll look good with creators for not opposing it, and we have the money to deal with this and absorb most of the cost, so … why not do the right thing?

  4. The results of artists getting paid fractions of a penny for every song played through to the end is that unlike great artists from a generation or 2 ago when technical limitations were way more difficult, most modern pop music today relies heavily on:

    1– melodies ripped directly from old hits
    2– super simple song structure: no intro, no bridge, no outro, no solos longer than 3 seconds, absolutely no ballads
    3– short songs, now less than 3 minutes
    4– no albums or multi-song themes or concept projects
    5– autotune and computer correction because artists won’t pay for studio time to get it right
    6– lots of repetition. repetition. REPETITION. R E P E T I YI YI YI YINYI YI YON. very low effort at meaningful lyrics.
    6– all supposedly different genres sound the same. the only thing that differentiates modern country from hip hop is that country artists sing with clothespins on their noses.

    it’s all predictable from how streaming platforms driving mass production techniques. quantity over quality. 1000 iOS consumer grade fluff pieces to every one Mac masterpiece.

    I think Apple and the other streamers are making music less interesting. Is it just me?

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