Spotify, Pandora & Google Have a New Problem: The New York Times…

These are companies that spend millions of dollars to secure fluffy, mainstream press coverage. So what happens when that doesn’t happen?

Enter the New York Times, a publication now focusing on the dirt that used to get ignored: paltry artist payouts, support of illegal download sites, and extremely questionable business models.  Last month, Times journalist Ben Sisario plunged into the sticky question of whether music streaming sites are, well, screwing artists, and this week, the topic was whether Google’s copyright-unfriendly policies are screwing record labels.

And, handicapping attempts to compete with the likes of Apple and Amazon.  “When it comes to the music industry, there are two Googles,” Sisario started.  “And the difference between them leads to a complicated and fraught relationship.”

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In other words, one of the largest publications in the world is suddenly saying stuff out loud.  “But as the companies behind these digital services swell into multibillion-dollar enterprises, the relative trickle of money that has made its way to artists is causing anxiety at every level of the business,” Sisario called out in an earlier piece covering Spotify, Pandora, and other streaming offenders.

“In the new economics of streaming music, however, the river of nickels looks more like a torrent of micropennies.”

Back to the Google question, the Times deftly exposed the double-speak of DMCA takedowns and compliance.  And perhaps more importantly, highlighted the very real drag Google’s infringement-rich results are having on flopping projects like Music on Google Play.  “At the same time that the record labels are accusing Google of failing to deal with piracy, Google is also eagerly pursuing licensing deals to use and sell the labels’ music,” Sisario continued.  “Those deals frequently need to be updated to keep up with industry trends, an area in which Google has lagged behind competitors.”

So what happens next, when all that dirty laundry starts wafting beyond the industry backyard?  Others are also investigating the broader picture, including the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.  Which suggests more critical coverage from more gigantic outlets ahead — but let’s see how many people care, and what impact this ultimately has on these businesses.

14 Responses

  1. Bored

    DMW is becoming tired and boring presenting one side of every story

    • Visitor

      So how can any journalist DMN or the New York Times report both sides of a story when one side is giving evasive answers to direct questions?

  2. The Insider

    The real story is that these guys are all chums with Resnikoff, sipping bourbon together in New York lounges like all those old chain-smoking journalists (tough never admitting the association).

  3. Myles na Gopaleen

    It is interesting to hear yet another Google non-denial denial as they say over at music tech policy.

    It is interesting to read new statements from google as more and more data regarding google’s actual practices is compiled and compared with google’s statements. I envision a room with a couple lawyers and a paralegal parsing and deconstructing the statements until they have absolutely no meaning.

    • paul

      doh. humbled once again by the self-correcting DMN. linked above.


  4. Visitor

    What about the rich artists at the top of the pyramid? What about the rich label execs at the top of the pyramid? What a joke. Level the playing field, let competition bloom and the total opportunity grows. You drive staring at the hood not the road.

  5. truth

    obama wants to retire the penny… we can’t even get paid streams much past half that…

  6. FarePpay

    No question something’s happening here. Perhaps it is the realization that open source access to almost everything creative has not been the liberating miracle touted by a new generation who were duped into believing they were on the threshold of a renaissance. A renaissance that unfortunately stripped artists of their rights and their dignity, while a band of marauding opportunists found a way to turn gold into copper.