Elizabeth @SenWarren Sides With The Streaming Service Not Paying Songwriters Against Streaming Service That Does

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Kettle meet pot. Pot meet kettle.  Doesn’t Sen Warren know songwriters are the small businesses and middle class of the streaming world, not Spotify? Who’s given Warren the bad advice?

The current wave of “progressives” continue to demonstrate that they are not populist in any sense of the word, especially when it comes to protecting the rights of songwriters.  It seems rather than representing the people, they simply represent a different set of crony capitalists than the politicians they rail against.

As an example, “progressive” Sen Elizabeth Warren speaking last week at The New America Foundation (Chairman of board is the robber baron and Google CEO Eric Schmidt)  lashed out at Apple for perceived mistreatment of  Spotify in the IOS store.

Odd.

Shouldn’t a politician who has staked her entire career on the notion that she looks out for the little guy over Wall Street-backed crony capitalists shy away from Spotify? After all Spotify is backed by Goldman Sachs aka Satan AND they failed to pay songwriters.  Remember this speech?

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.

Well–somebody invested in those songs.  Spotify didn’t write them.

Senator Warren criticizes Donald Trump for not paying contractors and working people.

Neither does Spotify.

Warren’s own website notes her interest in antitrust issues stems from the fact that market concentration harms small businesses and hurts the middle class.  Songwriting is the ultimate small businesses and songwriters are the middle class of the music business.  Spotify has over 50% of the worldwide streaming business according to its own economist, Will Page.  It has 7 times the users that it’s nearest competitor Apple Music has. That’s pretty concentrated.  If it weren’t for Apple Music, you might even say Spotify is a monopolist and it certainly acts like one.

The bitter irony of all of this is that while Apple isn’t perfect, it manages to pay songwriters and at a much higher royalty rate than Spotify.  Songwriters would have been much happier to see Warren lash out at Spotify.   I think the whole speech was more about posturing, burnishing pseudo populist credentials and playing favorites with potential Democratic Party leaning campaign donors.  IMHO Warren is to progressives what major label pop-punk is to punk rock.  The former house flipper turned anti-Wall Street politician is the campaign money generating sellout of a genuine populist movement. If you will, “the great rock and roll swindle.”

And right on cue after Warren’s speech,  Spotify’s head of global communications (and former Clinton speech writer) Jonathan Prince chimed in:

“Apple has long used its control of iOS to squash competition in music, driving up the prices of its competitors, inappropriately forbidding us from telling our customers about lower prices, and giving itself unfair advantages across its platform through everything from the lock screen to Siri. You know there’s something wrong when Apple makes more off a Spotify subscription than it does off an Apple Music subscription and doesn’t share any of that with the music industry. They want to have their cake and eat everyone else’s too.”

Let’s stop right here for a second. Actually dude,  while there may be some truth to what you are saying, you wanna know something that’s really, really, wrong?  Using millions of songwriters songs without licensing them or bothering to pay the writers.

Personally, I don’t really want to hear how poor little Spotify is being mistreated by big bad Apple.  In the pantheon of unlikeable movie characters, the least sympathetic is  “the bully that cries.”  Or perhaps a new archetype?  “The dominant service that runs to the FTC.”  (Which reminds me, thousands of songwriters not being paid, millions of unlicensed songs, mass copyright infringement, fraudulent NOIs being sent by US mail, shouldn’t the feds be investigating this?)

And maybe some of you have heard that name Jonathan Prince before?    Last year a Washington Post story listed Prince as one of a small group of Hillary Clinton’s State Department staffers that had been granted a special status that allowed them to “work” for other companies and foundations while working at the State Department.   As the Washington Post reported:

Aside from Abedin, Clinton political allies who were granted the special status included Maggie Williams, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager; Jeremy Rosner, a former Clinton aide; Jonathan Prince, a speechwriter for Bill and Hillary Clinton…”

I think the technical term for all of this is “skeevy.”

But back to Elizabeth Warren. Should we really be surprised that she ignores the  plight of songwriters?  Look who endorsed her: Lawrence “In Defense of Piracy” Lessig.

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About David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.