The first Spotify Awards and the role played by streaming services in access to digital content

Spotify has announced the launch of its first awards. The ceremony will take place in Mexico City, the “world’s music-streaming mecca” [Merpel says, "Yes, it is true. See below.”].

The Awards
Life without music is not life!
The Spotify Awards will be held on 5 March 2020, which will be broadcast live through a partnership with WarnerMedia’s Turner Latin America. 

The awards categories and winners will be selected based “entirely on user-generated data”, namely Spotify users’ habits. This will be the first ceremony awards based completely on streams, which, according to the company is “a true reflection of what fans are listening”. As readers may recall, Apple also announced its first music awards last December, however, the winners were selected by a combination of its editorial teams opinions and the amount of streams (read more here). 

While the categories and the list of finalists have not been released, the Spotify Awards playlist, including some of this Kat favourite singers, is already available here

The Venue 
The venue announcement was made in light of Spotifys streaming data numbers published on 19 November 2019, in which Mexico City was named as the world’s music-streaming mecca, ahead of cities like New York, London, and Paris. According to its records, Mexico City “has the most listeners on Spotify globally”.

The streaming company highlighted that, since the launch of Spotify in 2013, Mexico moved from being Spotifys first Latin American market to its “largest listener base worldwide”. 

In addition, Spotify identified a correlation between the increase of streaming when a live performance is about to take place in Mexico. For instance, according to its records, the streaming of the rock band Pixies increased 346% “just one week before a series of performances in Mexico City”. 

Furthermore, Spotify indicated that Mexico City has become “a magnet for major live acts and inviting rising singers and songwriters to connect with fans and make their mark”. But tradition is also alive and well in Mexico City; the city is still a big market for classic rock bands such as Queen and the Beatles, with 1,278,133 and 506,714 monthly listeners, respectively. 

This is not the first report that has put Mexico in the spotlight of music streaming stats. On 24 September 2019, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) published the “Music Listening 2019” report, which was based on global research conducted in April and May 2019, regarding the music listening habits of the online population aged 16-64 in 21 countries. Among the other interesting results, Mexico topped the list of countries whose people spent time listing to music each week (25.6 per week) and ranked third among the top six countries with the highest percentage of people who describe themselves as music lovers. 

Technological innovations, such as the Internet and digital formats of music, have revolutionized the industry, leading to a decline in the purchase of physical formats and an increase in access to digital content worldwide. As such, there has been a debate about the role played by music streaming services providers (e.g. Spotify) in this regard. 

On one hand, it is argued that music streaming has been a very useful tool in the fight against online piracy, constituting a notable share of the recorded music industry revenues each year. For instance, 47% of the global revenues of the music market derived from streaming (paid subscription and ads supported) in 2018, according to IFPI’s stats. In this sense, it is estimated there were 255 million users of paid subscription accounts by the end of 2018, an amount that is expected to increase this year. 

On the other hand, online copyright infringement is still considered a threat. According to IFPIs stats included in its “Music Listening 2019” report, 27% of the online population aged 16-64 in 21 countries are still listening or downloading music. As such, illegal downloads ripped from streaming has become “the most prevalent form of online music copyright infringement”. Still, 62% of those accessing illegal content “would choose on-demand streaming … if copyright infringement was no longer an option”. 

Moreover, music streaming services providers have been involved in lawsuits and heated debates regarding fair compensation to songwriters. In August 2019, Spotify, under the recently enacted Music Modernization Act (MMA), was sued by Eminem’s publisher in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division (Case 3:19-cv-00736), alleging unlicensed streaming of Eight Mile compositions “on Spotify billions of times”. 

The plaintiff alleged that Spotify did not have a “direct, affiliate or compulsory” license neither did it meet the requirements for limitation on liability under the provisions of the MMA, inter alia regarding the efforts required of a digital music provider (DPM) to identify and locate the copyright owner of the used musical work. Accordingly, it requested a declaration that MMA’s “retroactive elimination of the right to profits attributable to infringement, statutory damages, and attorneys´ fees … is an unconstitutional denial of substantive and procedural due process, and an unconstitutional taking of Eight Mile´s vested property right.” 

As readers may recall, MMA has been named as “the most significant piece of copyright legislation in decades” in the USA. Its Title I - Music Licensing Modernization Act has received more attention since it provides that a DMP “may obtain a blanket license” for digital uses (e.g. streaming, permanent or limited downloads) “by submitting a notice of license to the Mechanical Licensing Collective” (MLC), which is the entity in charge of receiving “notices and reports from digital music providers, collect and distribute royalties, and identify musical works and their owners for payment.” Title II - Classics Protection and Access Act then refers to the applicable provisions to sound recordings fixed before 15 February 1972. Title III - Allocation for Music Producers Act goes on to regulate the process by which producers, mixers and sound engineers receive royalties through a collective management organization (CMO) designated for such purpose, which currently is SoundExchage

Certainly, streaming services have played an important role in the change of consumer habits regarding music listening and access to digital content. In light of this, it will be most interesting to note the mood at the first Spotify Awards. 

Image 1: Kevin Turinsky, Rockin’ Out to the Bach Cello Suites On Caturday, under a CC BY-NC-SA license.
Image 2 was taken from the report “Music Listening 2019”, published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which is available here
Image 3 was taken from the report “IFPI Global Music Report 2019”, which is available here.
The first Spotify Awards and the role played by streaming services in access to digital content The first Spotify Awards and the role played by streaming services in access to digital content Reviewed by Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo on Friday, January 03, 2020 Rating: 5

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