Mighty Is an iPod Shuffle for Spotify Users. But Is Mighty Paying Royalties?

Mighty: the iPod Shuffle for Spotify Users
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Mighty is a crafty solution for listening to Spotify without a phone.  But is Mighty skipping out on artist royalties?

It’s a hot idea with impeccable timing.  And it’s a beautifully simple concept.  Basically, Mighty is like an iPod shuffle, but for Spotify users.  So instead of jogging to your stored music collection with your iPhone, you can bring your Mighty instead.

Here, take a look at their quick video description.  It’s pretty cool.

This makes a lot of sense for active users.  Accordingly, everyone from Verge to Bob Lefsetz is hyping Mighty sky-high.  But there’s one group that might not be cheering so loudly: songwriters and publishers.

In fact, Mighty might be stepping into a giant pile of litigation if they don’t get this one right.

Here’s the problem: Spotify recently declared that they don’t owe mechanical publishing licenses.  Mechanicals are basically rights for reproducing songs, and Spotify says they aren’t ‘reproducing’ anything.  Instead, they’re streaming, not duplicating.

Surprise! Spotify Says They Don’t Owe Anything for ‘Mechanicals’

Publishers bristled back, promising a serious fight.  And there’s one question that remains glaringly unanswered: what about the songs that are actually being reproduced?  After all, Spotify Premium users can temporarily download songs for offline access.  In fact, millions of songs can be stored this way, and all of those songs require a reproduction license (as they are definitely reproductions for offline listening).

Mighty, an ‘official Spotify partner,’ only focuses on one part of Spotify Premium: temporary offline downloads.  So, if Spotify isn’t paying mechanicals anymore, does that leave the responsibility with Mighty?

The ‘secret sauce’ for Mighty is that it doesn’t have to connect to anything.  That’s the beauty of it.  No alerts, text messages, or distractions during a workout, hike, or meditation session.  But in order to achieve that disconnect, every song must be re-downloaded as a separate reproduction.  Which means a mechanical license absolutely, positively must be secured.

But, are they paying that license, especially if Spotify isn’t?

We contacted Mighty this morning, but didn’t get a response.  But the National Music Publishers’ Association, which represents the largest music publishers in the world, said they’re looking into this issue.  Earlier, the NMPA told Digital Music News that mechanicals are owed for all streaming uses, not just offline temporary downloads.  And they’re preparing to fight — very hard — to preserve that license.

More as this develops.


3 Responses


    Mighty responded to my question “Do listens on Mighty count toward a tracks stream count on Spotify? Does each stream on Mighty generate revenue for artists?”

    Anthony Mendelson (Mighty)
    Sep 9, 12:06 PDT

    Hey Chris,

    Yes, Mighty is fully DRM compliant. Tracks played on Mighty do generate revenue for the artists just like tracks that are played on the Spotify app.
    Much love,

    Anthony Mendelson
    Technical Community Manager
    Team Shikaka

    Send us some songs you #breakfree to for our Mighty Monthly Mixtape: http://www.bemighty.com/mixtape

  2. Paul Resnikoff

    I heard back also. Play counts are recorded and sent back to Spotify, just as if you had the collection on your iPhone or something. Essentially Might is passing through the royalty obligations to Spotify.

    BUT, the question of mechanical licenses remains cloudy. Spotify says they don’t need to pay mechanicals, though I’m not sure where they come out on actual reproductions like cacheing.

    Also not sure if publishers would consider Mighty a separate licensing entity, needing separate deals. NMPA indicated they’re looking into this.

  3. Anon

    Why get Mighty when you can get the new Apple Watch and have it do a whole bunch of other things for you as well?