Music Publisher Sues Spotify For $1.6 Billion

– Spotify

While streaming continues to grow as the preferred means of consuming music, a new lawsuit filed by Wixen Music Publishing against Spotify shows the industry has not yet figured out a model that satisfies all players.

Wixen sued the Swedish streaming giant in a U.S. District Court in California Dec. 29. The lawsuit claims that Spotify “made insufficient efforts to collect the required musical composition information and … failed in many cases to license the compositions” properly. The company seeks $150,000 in damages for each work it claims was infringed, totaling up to a whopping $1.6 billion, along with injunctive or declaratory relief as necessary, attorney fees and pre- and post-judgment interest.  

On its website, Wixen lists Santana, The Black Keys, Weezer, John Prine, The Doors, Rage Against The Machine and many more as its 2,000-plus clients.

The suit is related to Wixen’s dissatisfaction with the specifics of Congress’s Music modernization Act Of 2017 and its decision not to participate in the Ferrick vs. Spotify class action lawsuit. Wixen sent Pollstar a statement claiming that the former legislation “would eliminate important legal remedies that publishers have against Spotify … if suits were filed on or after Jan. 1, 2018,” and the latter is inadequate because “too much of the settlement is going to legal fees,” and the terms are “not in their long-term best interest.”

Wixen president Randall Wixen said in a statement: “We are not looking for a ridiculous punitive payment. … All we’re asking for them is to reasonably compensate our clients by sharing a miniscule amount of the revenue they take in with the creators of the product they sell.”

Spotify is rumored to be on the path to an IPO, and as streaming is increasingly recognized as the dominant form music consumption, the company continues to make moves, inking a deal with Universal Music Group in April and agreeing to invest and receive investment from Chinese internet company Tencent.

Pollstar reached out to Spotify for comment, but hadn’t heard back at publication time.