Spotify Probably Owes You More Money — Here’s How to Get It (Our Latest Podcast)

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon
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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon
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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Most artists (and even some labels) have no idea what a mechanical license is.  Most likely, Spotify isn’t paying it to you.

What?  You’re not subscribed to the Digital Music News Podcast?  We’re available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, and most other podcast platforms.  Or, simply listen to the embed below.

Jeff Price is one of the music industry’s foremost experts on music copyright and artist royalties.  He was a cofounder at Tunecore and more recently started a company called Audiam, which is focused on mechanical rights licensing and collection and was acquired by SOCAN back in 2016.

He’s also a huge critic of Spotify and the recently-passed Music Modernization Act (MMA).  That’s probably a gross understatement.

One reason is that there’s actually another streaming royalty that is owed to most artists and songwriters — they just don’t know about it. In our latest Digital Music News Podcast episode, Jeff explains the sordid history of how this happened. But he also explains how to set yourself up to get paid on potentially years of unpaid royalties.

“So if any of you are out there listening to this, you’re like, ‘Wait a second, you’re telling me that I wrote a song and I recorded my own song. I went to Distrokid or CD Baby or Tunecore, and they distributed this into Spotify. And I know it’s streamed, because I’m getting money from CD Baby, Tunecore, or Distrokid. You mean there’s a second royalty that is owed to me, that wasn’t given to CD Baby, Tunecore, or Distrokid?'”

“The answer is yes, there is a second separate royalty owed to you that Spotify was supposed to pay. And then if you’re like, ‘Why am I not getting it?’ And the answer is because this ties into the MMA, the Music Modernization Act.” 

Price blames the glaring omission on corrupt legislators and shady music companies. He says this is criminal — but he also knows how to navigate the complexities of both the MMA and the agency it created.

That agency, called the Mechanical Licensing Collective, or MLC, is tasked with disbursing mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers.  It all sets sail in early 2021 — which means the smaller artist, label, and publisher can get paid.  As long as they know how to play this game.

So how do you find out how to claim your missing royalties, and more importantly, get paid?

Here’s everything you need to know in our latest podcast.

Check it out on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, or below.


27 Responses

  1. Thunder

    Spot-A-Lie Steals BILLIONS from independent musicians
    They steal BILLIONS from industry musicians too
    If the Music Monopoly knew how much money they steal
    They would shut it down today!
    Billions and Billions
    Don’t believe me
    Pretend the water company in your city
    Kept your water meter at downtown at the treatment facility
    When ever the city needed money …
    That’s Spot-a-lie
    Ask Eminem
    Hey Music Monopoly
    Do they show you the info on artists that do well
    They are pilfering us
    They take your good music you made (and foolishly stream on Spot-A-Lie) send you a licencing request send your music to someone signed with spotify and stop paying the artist they they hide your work from you and you never get a check for the licence they take out
    Money gone
    They are scalping us
    Billions of lost profit
    I’m small time
    But there are lots of me
    We Independents
    The least I could ask is to be stolen from by an American Company
    It’s double the humiliation from these limp European crooks

  2. Make Me A Bird

    On Google Play I started out well over 900 downloads my first month Then next month
    Next month
    Then another account popped up My name And a copy of an old photo I used to use No music No website
    Next month
    Then another dummy account popped up
    Exact same dummy of me
    Years like this new dummy accounts no numbers…
    Then Google Play went out of business
    They said no need to take your music down
    But for months it’s still up there
    (I took it down But it’s never taken down I found another one of my removed albums still up there just listed on page 4 on search results) And still available for sale… (Even though I made it for free)
    click on it…still streaming…
    I receive no money
    No numbers
    Because Google Play is out of business right!?!?
    Then I receive a request to join You Tube Music
    So Lyor Coen can steal from me and hide my numbers from me
    To prop up Billie Eyelash…..

    To then be robbed by Grammy

    • Aussie Jack

      You Tube Music is just as bad We have had numbers toppled back on views and likes we can’t trust anything we get. Once we had live streamed for days they said we had 5 viewers with an average listening time of 5 hours lol 5 hours
      You can’t trust the data

      • Fish

        We’ve had people unsubscribed too it’s outrageous what is going on just robbery.

    • Anon

      You Tube is the WORST the absolute worst but spotify defies reality
      They make the value of your music nothing so you look and feel like an idiot if you want to know what your numbers are or demand your money…
      ok mam here is your nickel

  3. Anonymously

    Play the game
    You mean signing up for all the international equivalent to ASCAMP Or BMI
    To get Royalties Pay each individual company Why do I pay Harry Fox then? Why join BMI?
    Every country they stream in they hide your numbers they hide your accounts you don’t know what is where We recently left Apple Music and wouldn’t you know they said we were down in America. That was odd legal speak so we looked and we were still streaming over seas. We have not seen a dime and we do not receive numbers but we’re still streaming in Algeria or what ever. This has been for about 2 years

    • Make Me A Bird

      My favorite is Apple
      They said we had 1 stream for 5 cents
      Then they said nothing for a year because obviously I suck and no one is listening right?
      Well strike that because Apple has requested to take a licence out on my lyrics of my music until 2099

      • Angst

        I mysteriously got one from Tik Toc for licencing we denied the request because we have NO accounts with them…Then a month later CD Baby sends us a letter saying something like we are putting your music up On the ChiCom site for you aren’t you lucky we recently left CD Baby
        Funny thing I have an older account with them and it’s great. I Get numbers regularly but this new account is dead

  4. JoeBlow

    You got someone to help explain from TUNECORE Jesus I got stories about there thievery for days

    • Jeff Price

      I founded TuneCore in 2006 and ran it as CEO until 2012. I left the company in eight years ago and Im very saddened to say I can no longer support it. DistroKid is head and shoulders above it. I cannot recommend TuneCore any longer. And it makes me sick.

  5. tired-of-fake-news


    This article is factually incorrect in almost every regard and you should be wary of sales pitches that disguise themselves as educational material. Before you start another battle that someone else will profit from, here a few quick facts:

    1. The “mechanical” royalty is far from secret. It was the centerpiece of the Music Modernization Act that copyright owners and streaming services worked on collaboratively for years. It resulted in the streaming services writing a check to the MLC (a publisher run organization) for over $60 million dollars to help fix the data problem that prevents accurate mechanical royalty payments. The MLC launches in 2021.

    2. If you are interested in collecting mechanical royalties, reach out to Music Report or HFA. The streaming services pay them to manage your mechanical royalties and they should be paying them out to you without charging an admin fee (since the streaming services already pay the admin cost). Beginning in 2021, the MLC will take over this work. They have a large operating budget and you have the right and responsibility to ask the MLC how they will improve matching and royalty payments.

    3. Jeff Price speaks out against the MMA because he wasn’t chosen to run the MLC and because (as he once told me) the confusion caused by MMA has caused it to “rain business” for him because songwriters think they need an intermediary like Audiam to help them collect royalties in the new regime. So here he (again) tries to create more chaos and confusion so that he can convince you to let him solve the problem for 7% of your royalties. You may want to reach out to HFA, Music Reports, and/or someone at the MLC before making the decision to add another intermediary between you and your money.

    4. There are other major obstacles to royalties reaching songwriters that are not talked about often enough because they implicate fellow copyright owners and we typically try to protect our own. However, record labels are taking the majority of the royalties for streaming and the publishing royalties that are paid out go through so many intermediaries (publishers, PROs, and other aggregators) who aren’t the best at identifying small songwriter catalogs, so money is bled out through that process.

    Do your homework folks!

    • BAC

      tired-of-fake-news, you are correct.

      Spotify doesn’t pay artists directly for mechanicals. Depending on where the music is streamed, the money is sent to the society for that country or area. For US streams via Spotify, it’s the Harry Fox Agency. Amazon sends their mechanical royalties from US streams to Music Reports.

      Collecting mechanicals outside the US is tricky or cumbersome for indies, and that’s why services like Audiam, Songtrust, and others have popped up to register your titles with foreign societies and collect mechanical and publishing royalties. Jeff Price is helping to solve a problem for indie artists.

      What’s disappointing is Resnikoff’s ongoing hatred towards Spotify along with his propaganda campaigns against them. It’s unnecessary. Then you have the comments from people who have never published music or have no fan base or listeners. They don’t know how the industry works. You can’t argue with them because they’re so fucking stupid.

    • Steven

      No, Jeff Price was speaking out against it before the people were chosen to run it.

      • Jeff Price

        this is correct. The bill (now law) really does not fix the problem and allows artists money to be taken from them and handed the board members of the organization responsible for paying them.

        Thats just no right.

    • Jeff Price

      In the US Spotify (all all interactive streaming services) are required to pay the Self-Published Songwriter, Publishing Administrator or the Reproduction Rights collection agency their mechanical royalties directly.

      MRI and HFA are hired by Amazon and Spotify as a back office to pay the Self-Published Songwriter, Publishing Administrator or the Reproduction Rights collection agency their mechanical

      An I adamantly agree with you that its vital all get the needed information in order to make informed decisions. Propaganda is not good!

    • Jeff Price

      The information you are providing is just factually incorrect. I do not know if this due to you not having the information or due to your dislike for me.

      Jeff Price (me) is angry because he believes music has value and if you want to use it get a license, make an equitable payment and the entity that earned the money should be paid the money.

      However in the MMA in section (11) Legal Protections For Licensing Activities, sub-paragraph (E) Preemption Of State Property Laws it reads as follows:

      “(E) PREEMPTION OF STATE PROPERTY LAWS—The holding and distribution of funds by the mechanical licensing collective in accordance with this subsection shall supersede and preempt any State law (including common law) concerning escheatment or abandoned property, or any analogous provision, that might otherwise apply.

      The language allows the potential billions of dollars of earned but unpaid songwriter royalties to be taken from their rightful owner and end up in the pockets of the major and large music publishing companies in the United States.

      In other words, the board of the MLC does not need to use the MLC and can recommend that other people’s money be taken from them and handed to themselves.

      You bet that makes me angry. It’s not right.

      In regard to intermediaries, I 100% agree. No artist should use any entity unless that entity can provide it true value.

      That said, if you like, I invite you to have a live web chat with me to be recorded and rebroadcast to discuss these issues as well as allow you the opportunity to express your concerns to me directly.

      Please let me know


      • Anonymous

        I think that provision pertains to laws where you have to turn over funds pertaining to uncashed checks to the states. In other words, if the MLC issues a check to a songwriter, and that songwriter doesn’t cash the check after a certain period of time, state escheating laws would require the MLC to turn over those funds to the state in which the songwriter resides, were it not for this provision. And good luck getting your money from the state after that happens.

        MMA does certainly contain provisions that allow for unmatched royalties for indie songwriters to end up in the pockets of major publishers based on their market share. And that’s definitely a bad thing. But I don’t think this is the provision that does that.

    • sylvester

      were it only that I could upvote this to the top of the comments section

  6. Steven

    Jeff, when you say (regarding our distributor data) then we can go on the ‘other side of the fence’ Do you mean that our distributors will start to include MLC payments and data, or that we’ll have to log in separately to MLC and get paid through MLCs system?

    • Jeff Price

      HI Steven

      You should look at your sound recording statement from your distributor that shows how many streams there were of your sound recording. Then you should look at your mechanical royalty statement and see if its for the same number of streams.

      How the MLC gets you this data (if you choose to use it, you dont have to) is not clear.

  7. tired-of-fake-news

    Hi Jeff,

    If your message is genuine, why deliver it in the context of misstatements and sensationalism that DMN presents in this article. Articles like this promote distrust and extreme reactions between parties that should be working together. Maybe post on your own next time?

    Copyright owners and tech should have evolved into mutually beneficial partners and joint innovators by now. I’m disappointed by the continuing war machine and this type of presentation doesn’t help the cause.

    P.S. I’m jealous that you work for yourself. If I did, I’d be happy to discuss directly.

    • Jeff Price

      If there is a factual error I ask you point it out. I too agree that the reality of the situation comes across as sensationalist. Truth is stranger than fiction in some cases.

      The traditional music industry is not about tech, they are about creating culture in the form of recorded music and monetizing the fame. They could no easier make a smart phone than Apple could write “Hotel California”.

      The obfuscation works to the advantage of the entrenched legacy industry. Lots of money earned by other people that dont even know it that they take.

      This is not hyperbole, its fact and has been occurring around the world for the last 90+ years via the music rights organizations in other countries (black box distributions). The MMA imports the black box concept into the US and goes a step further, it makes it legal to steal other people’s money.

      There was no need for that to be in the bill. It was put there for one reason only.

      I am open to speaking if I can be of help or provide more context or information.

      Please feel free to email me at and I will make sure to respond


  8. Johnny

    You have to wonder why the musicians didn’t try to save the music business by actually doing something! How about them creating their own Platform where they, the musicians control the business of music by eliminating all these dubious middle men who have been lying and cheating us for so many decades. Maybe a $5 donation from every musician and they could have their own Spotify? Of course not much chance of that ever happening!