Since it is unlikely that Spotify will give what we have seen will inevitably an unexciting stock opportunity or board seat to an artist, and since the hold back negotiations will likely take a while to get through the deal process to become the standard that the record club holdback became, what can we do right now to affect behavior at Spotify?
1. True-up payment: Given that Spotify has gotten to the point that it can raise more money than it needs and intends to continue on a growth juggernaut based entirely on the value of its artists, Spotify needs to distribute out a kind of dividend to the participating artists.
This should be a significant payment, hundreds of millions. It would acknowledge that Spotify knows that its valuation is based on artists, producers and songwriters and not based on tech oligarchs.
Labels and publishers should allow this payment to flow directly to their artists and writers, i.e., not apply it against unrecouped balances.
2. Increase the royalty rates
Since Spotify is raising money it doesn’t need, Spotify can afford to establish a fair royalty for artists—even something like 1¢ per stream for artists and 1¢ for songwriters. This would reflect the co-equal copyrights of songwriters and artists.
Spotify should also gross up its royalty payments to pay pension, health and welfare to AFTRA and AFM in the US and comparable unions in each territory where it operates.
3. Transparent Royalty Accounting
Spotify should make all of the royalty accounting back up available to each artist and label online. This will make auditing easier for both the labels and publishers auditing Spotify and the artists and songwriters auditing their respective label and publisher.
4. Give Us a Kiss
We like a little affection when we’re getting screwed.