Who? What? When? Where? Why? …How?

One App:

  • 24 million users
  • Over 20 million songs
  • 1.5 billion playlists created so far

One question:

Who owns all this?

Welcome to 2014, a year where you can own 20 million songs and store them in your pocket.

Well… no you can’t – because if you took the time to read the Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use you would know that through signing up and generating user content such as playlists, radios and comments “…you retain ownership of all rights, including intellectual property rights, in the User Content that you post to the Spotify Service” but “You grant [Spotify] a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any User Content that you post on or in connection with Spotify” (Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use)

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.43.15 pm

(Image Credit: Jake Troncone)

Establishing that Spotify owns all the user generated content on the application has caused issues with copyright laws and infringements as UK Record Label Ministry of Sound is suing Spotify for allowing users to generate playlists of which “mimic the order of the label’s popular compilation albums” (TIME Magazine). No formal comment has been made on behalf of Spotify.

The songs are then owned by the record labels the artists are signed by, and Spotify states that the artists “get paid for every one of [their] streams” which is an estimated “$0.006 to $0.0084 per single song stream” (Consequence of Sound). The question is – who gets the $0.006 to $0.0084? The artist, or the record label? Spotify has Digital Rights Management and Licencing agreements with  record labels including SonyEMIWarner Music Group and Universal, to provide its users with the ‘free’ music.

But, is it free?

Well – upon opening Spotity for the first time, you are undoubtly encouraged to sign up to the service through your Facebook account. This then gives Spotify to post on your behalf whilst also granting Spotify access to your private information “including your name, profile picture, country, hometown, e-mail address, date of birth, gender, friends’ names and profile pictures and networks” (Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use) for advertising purposes.


(Image Credit: Jake Troncone)

So when you’re signing up to the ‘free’ service and accepting the terms and conditions you are allowing Spotify to essentially use you, and your social media connections, as a way to advertise their services.

The term ‘free’ and the whole Spotify company was first majorly jeopardised  in 2011, only two weeks after the service was available in the US, when PacketVideo sued the company for patent infringement. The patent in question is 5 636 276 and is “…for the distribution of music information in digital form.”

In agreeing with the Terms and Conditions of Use, Spotify asks you to “Please respect Spotify and other users of the Spotify Service” but in case you don’t, “Spotify has no responsibility for your choices to make any actions or material public on the Service.”


Terms and Conditions of Use. 2014. Terms and Conditions of Use. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.spotify.com/us/legal/end-user-agreement/. [Accessed 24 March 2014].

That Didn’t Take Long: Spotify Sued For Patent Infringement Just Weeks After Entering US Market | Techdirt. 2014. That Didn’t Take Long: Spotify Sued For Patent Infringement Just Weeks After Entering US Market | Techdirt. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110728/00525815296/that-didnt-take-long-spotify-sued-patent-infringement-just-weeks-after-entering-us-market.shtml. [Accessed 24 March 2014].

Guides. 2014. Guides. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.spotifyartists.com/guides/. [Accessed 24 March 2014].

Spotify Sued by Ministry of Sound for User-Created Playlists | TIME.com. 2014. Spotify Sued by Ministry of Sound for User-Created Playlists | TIME.com. [ONLINE] Available at:http://business.time.com/2013/09/06/spotify-sued-over-user-created-playlists/. [Accessed 24 March 2014].

Spotify pays $0.006 – $0.0084 per song stream, according to new data | Consequence of Sound. 2014. Spotify pays $0.006 – $0.0084 per song stream, according to new data | Consequence of Sound. [ONLINE] Available at: http://consequenceofsound.net/2013/12/spotify-pays-0-006-0-0084-per-song-stream-according-to-new-data/. [Accessed 24 March 2014].


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