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Spotify Notice of Intent to Obtain Compulsory License
Old 22nd March 2018
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Spotify Notice of Intent to Obtain Compulsory License

I don't know where to post this question so I'll just post it here. Mods please feel free to move this to where it should be.

I got a letter from Spotify - a Notice of Intent to Obtain Compulsory License - for one of my songs. It seems that they want to publish my song for streaming on Spotify. It is my first time to receive something like this and am not familiar with this process. So I have the following questions:

1. Does it mean I will be giving Spotify only the right to publish/stream my song as-is on their site but not allow them to alter the arrangement of my song in any way or have some other artist record my song to create another version?

2. How did Spotify get wind of my song? I never put it for streaming on public anywhere, just sent it to very few special friends. Oh, I have it on SoundCloud but it's listed there as private so no one can listen to it unless I give them a link. And I also registered my song with the copyright office, but does the copyright office allow any people to listen to songs registered with them?

3. What pros and cons should I be aware of if I enter into this deal? What pitfalls should I be aware of, considering that I want to be able to market this song myself and perform it in public in the future? I don't want to lose any rights and regret it later.

4. Does anybody have any bad experience with Spotify in going into this kind of deal?

5. On the last page of Spotify's letter where it says "Recording Details", it indicates the following:
Label Name: VAA
Catalog Number:
Writers: (My name)
Recording Artists: Aldious
What is "VAA" and who is "Aldious" and why is it indicated here? Is Aldious the name of a band that will record or create a new version of my song?
I'm so puzzled by this.

I would really appreciate any help or comments from you guys who are experienced and knowledgeable about this process.

Thank you so much in advance!
Old 23rd March 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 

All it means is someone else (Aldious) already recorded a version of a song Spotify believes to be yours. A Compulsory License is exactly that: compulsory. You don't get an option -- it's a legal notification. Also, this is mechanical rights. They are saying they are going to distribute this song performed by Aldious and believe you are the song writer and they will be collecting and distributing to you mechanical royalties.

Now, here's the fun part. If you've never given this song out for the public to listen to, Spotify just probably did a cursory search and found your name attached to something similarly named and then went to get this license (possibly the copyright office.) So it is probably all a mistake. Easiest way to find out if this song is yours is to search by your song title and the recording artist name and see if you can find it to listen to. If it isn't yours, you need to tell Spotify -- if they give you royalites on something that isn't yours, you can be liable to pay them back anything you take when the real license holder comes to claim it. It's not like you get free money if they make a mistake.

As for the royalty rate, that is decided by the PROs and negotiations and Congress. It's already fixed (for now)
Old 23rd March 2018
  #3
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Space1999's Avatar
 

Yes and once you write a song and put it out there anyone can do a cover of your song. You do not own it like you think you do. Probably best to brush up on how copyrights and royalties and all that Jazz works.
Old 23rd March 2018
  #4
Gear Addict
 

Thank you so much guys! Your replies are very helpful.

So, they don't even need to ask my permission to publish Aldious' cover version of my song? Or is this letter I received asking for my permission?

What does Aldious get out of this? Do they also receive any royalties for their performance of my song?

If Spotify did a cursory search at the copyright office, did they just find the title but not hear the song to determine if it's really the one that was covered by Aldious?
Old 23rd March 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
So, they don't even need to ask my permission to publish Aldious' cover version of my song?
They do not need to ask. You could go and record a Beatles track and release it without asking but you won't collect the publishing or writers share. And you couldn't use it to picture (that requires a synch license) -- so no videos. And you couldn't perform it publicly live without a license to cover that and permission from the rights holder (live performance requires a different license.) However, the one place that does not require permission is making a recording (audio only) cover. Why it is called a mechanical license.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
Or is this letter I received asking for my permission?
No it is not. It is a "notice"

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
What does Aldious get out of this? Do they also receive any royalties for their performance of my song?
There are other royalties: performance in this case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
If Spotify did a cursory search at the copyright office, did they just find the title but not hear the song to determine if it's really the one that was covered by Aldious?
Yes. They really don't care about the peanuts they are going to pay out. They just want the legal coverage (they attempted and are paying a "songwriter")
Old 23rd March 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
They do not need to ask. You could go and record a Beatles track and release it without asking but you won't collect the publishing or writers share. And you couldn't use it to picture (that requires a synch license) -- so no videos. And you couldn't perform it publicly live without a license to cover that and permission from the rights holder (live performance requires a different license.) However, the one place that does not require permission is making a recording (audio only) cover. Why it is called a mechanical license.

No it is not. It is a "notice"

There are other royalties: performance in this case.


Yes. They really don't care about the peanuts they are going to pay out. They just want the legal coverage (they attempted and are paying a "songwriter")

Thanks very much!
It's clear to me now.
Old 23rd March 2018
  #7
Gear Addict
 

They're encouraging me to sign up for an account and register my songs with Harry Fox Agency. Is that a good idea? What advantages will I get out of that? Anything to watch out for?
Old 23rd March 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
They're encouraging me to sign up for an account and register my songs with Harry Fox Agency. Is that a good idea? What advantages will I get out of that? Anything to watch out for?
HFA is the standard. They handle everyone.
I don't self-publish (my stuff is under labels) so once again, mechanicals are generally sought through HFA. It's usually HFA or the Library of Congress (LoC) in the US.

HFA is the place that music supervisors/music clearance go to first. So being listed with them makes that bureaucratic stuff easier to deal with for everyone so they can track you down. I do not know if there are any associated costs for you (as, once again, the labels I'm under are already with HFA so I don't see it or Sony/ATV handles it.)

The big thing is if you are a songwriter, you should be with a PRO and if you self-publish, you should have yourself set up as a publisher under your PRO too. Then your registered works will go into their works repository (which BMI, ASCAP, and PRS at least share between now; can't remember if SESAC does.)

Filing with the copyright office is the one thing you do not need to do. In the US, everything original is copyrighted to the writer by default the minute it happens. Filing with the office is kind of pointless because of that. Registering works with a PRO is not pointless as that's how money is going to be collected. And registering with HFA will get you the mechanicals.
Old 24th March 2018
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
HFA is the standard. They handle everyone.
I don't self-publish (my stuff is under labels) so once again, mechanicals are generally sought through HFA. It's usually HFA or the Library of Congress (LoC) in the US.

HFA is the place that music supervisors/music clearance go to first. So being listed with them makes that bureaucratic stuff easier to deal with for everyone so they can track you down. I do not know if there are any associated costs for you (as, once again, the labels I'm under are already with HFA so I don't see it or Sony/ATV handles it.)

The big thing is if you are a songwriter, you should be with a PRO and if you self-publish, you should have yourself set up as a publisher under your PRO too. Then your registered works will go into their works repository (which BMI, ASCAP, and PRS at least share between now; can't remember if SESAC does.)

Filing with the copyright office is the one thing you do not need to do. In the US, everything original is copyrighted to the writer by default the minute it happens. Filing with the office is kind of pointless because of that. Registering works with a PRO is not pointless as that's how money is going to be collected. And registering with HFA will get you the mechanicals.
Thank you for this good info! Much appreciated.
Old 24th March 2018
  #10
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I just received 30 of these last week. My name is listed as the writer but I'm not. The artist, label & UPC catalog aren't mine either. The song titles are similar to mine but not exact.
I contacted them but haven't heard back. Haven't a clue what steps to take.
Old 24th March 2018
  #11
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bitman's Avatar
Get a PRO.
Old 24th March 2018
  #12
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They also won’t actually be paying mechanicals. If they were, you wouldn’t get a NOI. The way the copyright law works, if they "make an effort" to find the copyright holder, that’s good enough. They search the LOC records, don’t find your tune in it, and file a NOI instead. It sort of works as a promissory note that they don’t intend on following up.
Old 24th March 2018
  #13
Gear Nut
 

I got one of these too. i'm listed as the writer for some EDM tune I found on youtube. There wasn't any mandolin on that tune and I sure as hell didn't write it. My letter came from hfa. Do they have a bunch of corrupt or bad data records?

Edit: did a search for the song title on hfa and I'm not listed on any of those songs. So this must be some Spotify scam. Seems like a lot of trouble to screw someone out of a quarter.

Last edited by mandodon; 24th March 2018 at 05:50 AM..
Old 25th March 2018
  #14
Gear Addict
 

This is discouraging, to say the least.
Old 25th March 2018
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
And you couldn't perform it publicly live without a license to cover that and permission from the rights holder (live performance requires a different license.)
What about those bands that play nightly in clubs and hotels doing only cover songs? Are they doing something illegal? I don't think any of them bothers to ask permission from the rights holder.
Old 25th March 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
What about those bands that play nightly in clubs and hotels doing only cover songs? Are they doing something illegal? I don't think any of them bothers to ask permission from the rights holder.
The venue can buy an umbrella license. If the venue does not have a license, then, yes, they are doing something illegal. You can often find on the doors to pubs with live bands or pre-recorded music (like overhead speakers), stickers stating ASCAP or BMI (though it isn't required to be displayed.) Playing music in a bar/restaurant/shop is considered public performance and there's a license to buy. If you are wondering who enforces this, the PROs send people to places like this to investigate and then report. They will take businesses to court and it will get expensive.

Even a busker can get fined/taken to court for playing covers publicly for money without a license.

Large Stadiums/convention centers have venue licenses. One of the reasons (until recently*) politicians could play any song they want without getting in trouble or bothering to get a clearance with the rights' holders. An Artist could only distance themselves by publicly speaking out but they couldn't prevent the usage. However, if they used the same song on a random campaign stop (county fair, bus tour, etc), they could get in trouble (unlicensed venue.) One political party has faced trouble by doing this multiple times. It's also why Political Parties try to use venues/convention centers since they won't get into trouble. If they do it in a hotel ballroom, for instance, they would need clearances that they probably won't get. Or it'd be expensive.

(*Very recently, in the US, there was a new law passed to give rights-holders a requirement for clearance if their music is used in conjunction with political speech even with umbrella licenses.)

Last edited by pentagon; 25th March 2018 at 07:17 PM..
Old 26th March 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl777 View Post
This is discouraging, to say the least.
Not discouraging! This is the same as a songwriter getting a cut, its a reason to celebrate. The only thing that can happen is you benefit. . you get more attention and make money you otherwise wouldn't. . . . . for doing no additional work

The more people cover your songs, the better!

Spotify Notice of Intent to Obtain Compulsory License

EDIT -

Oh I hadn't read through the thread. Yeah if they're mistakingly sending out a bunch of these then yeah, discouraging lol
Old 27th March 2018
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
The venue can buy an umbrella license. If the venue does not have a license, then, yes, they are doing something illegal. You can often find on the doors to pubs with live bands or pre-recorded music (like overhead speakers), stickers stating ASCAP or BMI (though it isn't required to be displayed.) Playing music in a bar/restaurant/shop is considered public performance and there's a license to buy. If you are wondering who enforces this, the PROs send people to places like this to investigate and then report. They will take businesses to court and it will get expensive.

Even a busker can get fined/taken to court for playing covers publicly for money without a license.

Large Stadiums/convention centers have venue licenses. One of the reasons (until recently*) politicians could play any song they want without getting in trouble or bothering to get a clearance with the rights' holders. An Artist could only distance themselves by publicly speaking out but they couldn't prevent the usage. However, if they used the same song on a random campaign stop (county fair, bus tour, etc), they could get in trouble (unlicensed venue.) One political party has faced trouble by doing this multiple times. It's also why Political Parties try to use venues/convention centers since they won't get into trouble. If they do it in a hotel ballroom, for instance, they would need clearances that they probably won't get. Or it'd be expensive.

(*Very recently, in the US, there was a new law passed to give rights-holders a requirement for clearance if their music is used in conjunction with political speech even with umbrella licenses.)
There’s also a certain moral right - I’m not sure how that affects politics, but you probably wouldn’t have Moby’s music for walkon playback at a butchers convention for example.

In response to the OP, a “compulsory” license is only applicable once a song has been officially released - someone can’t hear your demo, record their version and release it first. That’s the reason X factor and the like can do note for note covers on the shows with minimal
hassle. But if your song has never been released - there’s a mistake somewhere.
Old 4th July 2018
  #19
Here for the gear
 

I received the same compulsory license notice for a song that wasn't mine but had the same title of a song I wrote. This is something a business should do correctly rather then leave it to musicians to clean up, especially if it causes problems for people to pay back. I wrote back but haven't received a reply yet. This could cause problems for a lot of people if the Harry Fox agency or Spotify is not making sure it's the correct author. Does anyone know if any agency or attorney is doing something about this seemingly chronic (compulsory license/wrong Author) issue happening to a lot of people?
Old 10th July 2018
  #20
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StillCrazy's Avatar
 

Spotify

I have received about 10 of these in the last 2 years. Part of the licensing rules is that a song cannot be changed so much that it is not unrecognizable from the original song.

I have contacted HFA and was informed to send a formal request to Spotify to obtain all necessary information as to recording etc.

I have yet to ever receive anything back from Spotify.

I was able to find the reggae band that had recorded two of my tunes and it was a decent version for reggae. I'm not a fan of reggae music.

One other comment from a previous poster. The only valid copyright is made with the copyright office. You may have written it first but if someone copyrights it before you your out of luck unless you have deep pockets and time.
Unfortunately I know this from personal experience.
Old 15th July 2018
  #21
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Is there any reason to save these notices? We've received many, probably a couple hundred or so, and keep piling them up in a box. Would love to just toss them unless we could need them for some reason in the future.
Old 25th August 2018
  #22
Here for the gear
 

As I'm reading these posts about the NOI's coming from Harry Fox Agency it's exactly what I have received. Names of songs not mine. Name of songs not the same UPC numbers. There must be something we can do. It's false, its' fake, it's error's pure and simple.
Even though the majority of this agreements come from Spotify I have received them from Digital 7 and maybe more companies. All false information.
Here is a brief listing:

Title: REMEMBER ME L a b e l N a m e : THOMAS FERGUSON
WAVERLY MUSIC
Catalog Number: UPC - 803680628027
W r i t e r s : TOM ORVAL ROBLE
R e c o r d i n g A r t i s t s : TOM FERGUSON

Musical Works Recording Details
Title: REMEMBER ME L a b e l N a m e : TOM HUMBERT
Catalog Number: UPC - 884501826396
W r i t e r s : TOM ORVAL ROBLE
R e c o r d i n g A r t i s t s : TOM HUMBERT

Title: BED L a b e l N a m e : ALL SELECTIONS WRITTEN
AND PERFORMED BY TOM EDINGTON
Catalog Number: UPC - 634479604195
W r i t e r s : TOM O ROBLE
R e c o r d i n g A r t i s t s : TOM EDINGTON

I could go on and on showing you these examples.
But the song title is a song I wrote but when I go to the record label and find the artist and the song - that song isn't mine. And the upc # is not mine.
The other thing is that every first name is "Tom" listed as the recording artist.
I wroter Spotify today and have written Harry Fox a few times but nothing in the way of an answer.
I don't feel that my name should be used to obtain these license agreements.
If you know of any one that may help please let me know.
And I would be very appreciative if you have an idea -- thank you if you do.
I see that Adam Parness Global Head of Publishing for Spotify. If anyone wants to bombard his office with a letter please let me kmow. I believe I can find the New York address.
I don't know if I'll be able to find this web site again so please email me at: [email protected] I will probably call Spotify and Harry Fox on Monday.
I was happy when I read the first post here on this web site and found that he had exactly word for word described the PROBLEM that I have also.

Tom
Old 30th August 2018
  #23
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

Yeah I get those too. I think it`s a C.Y.A. search for anything that is remotely similar so you`ve been "notified".
Old 8th October 2018
  #24
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I have a carton full of the Harry Fox Notice of Intent (for Spotify). Is there any reason to save these? They are taking up too much space in my closet!
Old 14th October 2018
  #25
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Willie Ash owner operator of will-burn recording and publishing, have that same problem.received N O I from spotify for Ash Island records, after song was made, they denied that the song was mind. after they had applied for compulsory license.
Old 14th October 2018
  #26
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BarcelonaMusic's Avatar
 

I get those all the time. It`s another song that`s close in title to yours. They are just covering their ass from all angles.
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