Spotify and the National Music Publishing Association have announced that they’ve reached an agreement that will see the streaming service pay out as much as $30 million in unpaid royalties to artists whose music it has used. The fees in question will go toward “unpaid and unmatched” songs, i.e., those tracks whose publishers Spotify was previously unable to identify. (Also known as the “I didn’t know where to send the check, I swear!” method of getting out of paying bills.)
Publishers will be able to claim and prove ownership of the songs in the unmatched pool, thus taking their cut of the unpaid royalties (which will presumably then make its way to the artists themselves, we assume, because we’re very naive). By participating in the settlement, Spotify will be released from further claims from participating publishers, at least as they relate to this unmatched crop of songs.
This is just the latest in a long line of settlements negotiated between the NMPA—a trade union devoted to protecting members’ property rights—and major online services; the group hammered out a similar deal with YouTube in 2011, ensuring that publishers could collect royalties for trademarked music used in user-submitted videos.