Spotify is gearing up for a streaming war, with the music services' new hire of four Washington, D.C. lobby firms Tuesday.
Forbes-Tate, Peck Madigan Jones, Gibson Group and BakerHostetler each filed registrations with the Senate to lobby on behalf of Spotify on a number of issues, as Politico reports, including competition, licensing and "platform neutrality."
At the same time, Politico also states the leading streaming service has also hired at least two lobbying firms in Europe to represent it before the European Union and has posted a new job listing there for a vice president of public policy.
The investment in lobbying comes as governments are reexamining longstanding music laws.
In Washington, the U.S. Dept. of Justice is said to be considering amending its nearly 75-year-old consent decree to allow music publishers to partially withdrawal from performance rights societies' blanket licenses, allowing publishers to cut direct deals for digital licenses. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee sub-committee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights also recently held a hearing on the antitrust decrees that govern how the performance rights organizations engage in music licensing.
Generally, copyright is receiving increased attention in Washington with a sense that U.S. laws need to be updated for the digital age. As part of that, the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a report making recommendations on how revision might proceed.
In the meantime, music publishers are hoping the Songwriters Equity Act will be reintroduced before Congress, updating two sections of the U.S. Copyright act. Those changes would allow federal rate courts to consider sound recording royalty rates when setting performance rates for songwriters and composers and encourage rate courts to set rates that reflect the market value for mechanical licenses.
All of this could significantly impact the rates that Spotify and other streaming services must pay to artists.
Spotify's move precedes the impending renovation of Apple's Beats Music streaming service that is sure to shake up the industry. Apple has bolstered its own presence in Washington lately, Politico reports, spending about $4.1 million on lobbying in 2014 with six firms on retainer.