Daniel Ek Brings Another Whopper and Claire Atkinson Let’s Him Get Away With It

It’s not every day that we can get two “Big Lies” out of one Daniel Ek interview, but the Claire Atkinson reporting in the New York Post shows a distinct lack of fact checking that let him get away with another whopper.  (“Spotify CEO says middlemen gobble cash“)

Ek suggests there are perhaps too many middlemen, coupled with the problem of antiquated collection systems. “Some systems and processes use physical pieces of paper. How do you do that when every unit would be in the billions? That’s a lot of paper,” says the tech-focused Swede.

Antiquated?  You know who uses “physical pieces of paper”?  Google.  Anyone knows this who gets a Google royalty statement which is pretty much everyone.  You can elect to get accounted to electronically (which usually signs you up for a bunch of other sneaky stuff), but the default is a paper statement.

But–but–if you read the Spotify agreement with Sony that was posted on The Verge (and has now been taken down), specifically Paragraph 2 “Reporting and Payment,” you would know that all of the statements from Spotify to Sony are required to be in “machine readable” form.  You can safely assume that all the major labels are accounted to the same way–in fact, everyone we know who gets a statement from Spotify gets a digital statement  We can also tell you that we have never heard of anyone who got a paper Spotify artist statement.  (Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that the statement is correct, paper or digital.)

They may send paper statements to publishers, but as far as we know, all of the major publishers and administrators require digital statements, particularly for streaming services.  This would include companies like Kobalt, Ole, Songs, Peer and many others, including ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.  There’s really no believable way that anyone with a catalog of any size could get a paper statement from Spotify because there would be hundreds if not thousands of pages even for a relatively small catalog.  And a check for $9.  The paper for the statements would cost more than the earned royalties.

We are just mystified as to why an outstanding reporter like Claire Atkinson would allow Ek to get away with what is clearly a questionable statement.  Unless Ek never read his contracts and never talked to his royalty department, he knew the statement was false when he made it.  Claire Atkinson should have asked him for names or picked up the phone and asked any CFO or accounting manager in any of the labels or digital aggregators that do business with Spotify and they could have told her off the top of the head that Ek was making a false statement.

We don’t see how it could have been anything other than a knowingly false statement, also called a lie.

Why didn’t anyone fact check it?  Because just like the “greedy middlemen” headline, it fits the 1999 narrative that Ek and the McCoalition are still trying to peddle.  The music business is so antiquated that they’ll never been as hip as “the tech-focused Swede” with his monopoly music service.  Just like nobody questions how Spotify gets a valuation that’s higher than any record company.  Ek is sooo 1999 from biting the hand that feeds to the Dot Bomb valuations.

Hey, Mr. Bit Torrent–1999 called and wants its bullshit back.  And shame on the New York Post for publishing these rants without checking the facts.