While staging the latest YouTube-diss session in London yesterday, songwriter collecting society PRS For Music let it be known that they had “agreed commercial terms” with Spotify regarding the royalty the ever popular streaming service will pay for the use of the songs it represents. I think there was an implication of “if Spotify can do a deal, why can’t YouTube?”.
To be honest I didn’t know Spotify was still in talks with PRS, though it is common for online music services to go live without some licensing deals in place, especially on the publishing side. It’s also not clear whether Spotify have negotiated a special start-up deal or if they are paying the collecting society’s standard streaming rates – though I suspect the former.
If so, then the Spotify/YouTube situations aren’t the same. Most streaming services happily enter into start-up deals with PRS, the problem comes 2-3 years later when the collecting society starts to demand higher rates for what should now be, in their eyes, proper revenue-generating operations from which their members can benefit. On that logic, Spotify’s second PRS deal in 2-3 years time will be more interesting, should they, we and the world at large still be around then.