No Spotify, EMI Isn’t Ripping Its Artists Off

Last week, at SXSW, Spotify board member Sean Parker flatly admitted that many major label artists aren’t getting paid, based on legacy contracts and opaque accounting.

Which means that a potentially substantial chunk of Spotify’s payments to major labels are not being distributed to the artist.   “There are a lot of artists whose contracts are written in such a manner that they aren’t getting paid for what’s happening on streaming services,” Parker said, while pointing to a near-certain standoff between rights owners and their labels. “So there’s blood in the water. There’s a war coming, and they’re going to have to deal with it. But Spotify has to remain neutral; the biggest contribution we can make is transparency.”

In response to these types of accusations, major labels typically remain quiet.  Except in this case, EMI has chosen to respond.  In an interview with digital media attorney Roman Reyhani, EMI Group executive vice president Barak Moffitt seemed to suggest that Parker simply had his facts wrong.

Question: “What do you think of Sean Parker’s recent statement at SXSW that there’s ‘blood in the water’ and that there’s a war coming between the labels, publishing companies, and the artists over subscription based revenue?”

Moffitt: “I don’t agree with that because at EMI our role is to connect our artists with successful outcomes. That’s why we exist.”

The complete interview with Moffitt is here.

18 Responses

  1. @madktc

    You can deepen your relationship with your artists by explaining how much money Spotify is paying you (complete and upfront transparency) and how much of that is being passed on to them (your artists).

    Its gonna happen one time or another, why not get it out of the way? Start building value with the streaming service you made your primary investment with. They need fans too.

    • Visitor

      To my knowledge; in order to make the the deals with US majors go through Spotify had to agree to keep certain numbers private.

  2. Visitor2

    I can’t possibly be the only one who sees the fucking irony in the inventor of Napster talking about paying artists.

  3. unlimited supply

    EMI has fucked musicians for decades and continues to fuck musicians.

    This Barak isn’t the only one who will be out of a job soon enough.

  4. Visitor

    Is there anything in there that shows EMI isn’t ripping off their artists?

    How much money has Spotify paid to EMI? How much of that has been passed along to EMI’s artists? Is it 50/50? Or is an artist with 10% of the total streams on an indie label making more?

  5. Been there

    I was in a band on EMI when they were acquired by Terrafirma in 2008. The entire landscape of that company was restructured by Guy Hands and co. They had no idea how to run a label, let alone something of that size and capacity. From my experience, the artists were a tiny part of what they were trying to accomplish, which was to make the company profitable, which as we know failed miserably.

    I’m in a different band on EMI now, they’re in a different place and singing a much different tune. That said, I wouldn’t use the word adversarial to describe antyhing that happens between an artist and their label.

    It’s business, with majors it’s big business. Less art, more commerce. Where we are as things are it’s a gamble, it always has been, at this point stakes are high for both parties. If an artist is unhappy with the deal they’ve been handed, or a deal they’ve signed or parts of it they can choose to not take it, or attempt to leave it.

    No one’s holding a gun to their head.

    In the end this has nothing to do with the label, and more to do with the artists infrastructure (management, legal) how they are advised, and if they decide to trust that counsel.

  6. Alejandro Cacciola

    Yes…Also Santa Claus really exists! …Give me a break…

  7. RandyL

    The accusation was based on evidence. Spotify know that they are paying the labels and they know the labels aren’t passing on that income to their artists. The response from EMI was pure rhetoric lacking any evidence. Hence the accusation stands until evidence is produced to prove it to be false

  8. PTSoundHound

    All that statement addresses is the “blood in the water issue” by saying that everyone under the EMI banner (including the artists) is one big, loving family looking out for each other’s best interests.


    Doesn’t say anything about the up-front fees Spotify paid to EMI getting filtered down to artists; it says that if EMI thought that it was best for the artist that they didn’t get a chunk of the fee then indeed that’s covered by Moffitt’s “what’s best for the artist”.

    My question is why didn’t the interviewer press the point?

  9. Disturbing

    Was that response doublespeak? Sure sounds like it..

  10. Elias

    Question raised.

    Question NOT answered.

    Question needs to be asked again over and over again if Spotify wants to survive.

    Question: when do ALL shorted artists begin the pullout?

  11. @wampusmm

    Are you cynical? Read these comments from Barak Moffitt to find out.

  12. huh?

    is it really that inconceivable that a label woke up and is trying to do things differently? any less conceivable than, say, a wealthy entrepreneur who made his name file-sharing coming out saying artists should be paid?

  13. OD

    Why does everyone consider Shaun Parker to be the originator of Napster. It was Shawn FANNING people. Parker came in late like he did to Spotify…

    • Visitor2

      Doesnt matter, he was still involved and at a very high level. He is in no place to comment on paying artists.

  14. Max

    Interesting quote. Multiverse theory gains a tad more traction.