×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Attorney Dina LaPolt Slams Spotify, Pandora, Amazon in Midem Talk

To describe veteran music business attorney Dina LaPolt as “outspoken” is an understatement of almost comic proportions, but she was in rare form Wednesday during her keynote Q&A at the Midem conference in France. LaPolt — who works with Britney Spears, 21 Savage, Fifth Harmony and played a leading role in the passage of the Music Modernization Act — slammed the streaming services who are trying to overturn the Copyright Royalty Board ruling that would see songwriter and publisher rates increase by 44% over the next five years. While four services are appealing the ruling — Spotify, Amazon, SiriusXM/Pandora and YouTube/Google; Apple Music is not — she singled out Spotify, which has been the most outspoken about the appeal.

Pandora has very little skin in the game, their interactive service is sh–!” she said. “Amazon are new, and they’re not a big player in the game. But here comes Spotify with its Secret Genius awards and putting [songwriter] credits on their service, while all this time they’re behind closed doors scheming and strategizing,” referring to the company’s efforts to engage the songwriting community with greater recognition.

She hypothesized that the streaming services’ attitude was to support the Music Modernization Act for publicity’s sake, and then appeal the CRB ruling: “‘Let’s get the [Music Modernization Act] passed with these dumbasses, and then we’ll appeal this ruling so we don’t have to pay,’” she conjectured.

She had high praise for Apple Music’s decision: “Apple is amazing, because they accept the appeal and say ‘Yup, songwriters deserve more money.’”

Even after such strong words, she finished on a note of reconciliation. “It’s not in anyone’s interest to have a divisive relationship with any of the tech companies,” she said. “I think there’s a way out for Spotify: If they withdraw their appeal. All relationships can be fixed.”

Reps for Amazon, Pandora and Spotify either declined comment or did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

She also spoke of sexism and the salary imbalances in the music industry, and noted that her relatively independent position as an attorney allows her to be more outspoken than executives who work at music companies. “Lawyers are at the front lines of closing the deals and agreeing the contracts — we are the ones who can make it happen. So if we call out companies [and say] ‘You’re paying a man a lot more,’ we can solve a lot of the problems.”

Ironically, LaPolt was originally scheduled to be interviewer in this keynote, but Epic Records CEO Sylvia Rhone came down with food poisoning Wednesday morning and was forced to cancel, so the roles were flipped, with Billboard editor Hannah Karp interviewing LaPolt. (Rhone had recovered by Thursday morning and accepted a Hall of Fame Award from Midem at a brief ceremony.)

Despite the heated topics she addressed during her impromptu keynote, LaPolt ended on a positive note, with encouragement to artists. “Be true to yourself,” she said. “Look at Billie Eilish: Has she compromised anything? Hell no!”

More Biz

  • Singer-rapper Psy performs during the 70th

    YG Agency Boss Quits as K-Pop Scandals Expand

    Yang Hyun-suk last week resigned from his remaining positions at YG Entertainment. The talent agency he co-founded is deeply mired in a series of inter-linked scandals that stretch from drugs to prostitution. Problems started with the band Bigbang and its star Seungri, but now also encompass other YG artists. Hwang Bo-kyung was appointed as the [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full power of pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at Mr. Purple, the rooftop bar at lower east side Manhattan’s Hotel Indigo, Variety’s cover stars and luminaries gathered for cocktails and the unveiling of [...]

  • Motown Seeks to Block 'O-Town' Trademark

    Motown Seeks to Block 'O-Town' Trademark

    UPDATED: The boy band O-Town briefly rose to fame in 2000, with a star turn on MTV’s reality series “Making the Band.” But the reformed group has just one obstacle to its efforts to trademark its name: Motown Recordings. The label’s parent company, Universal Music Group, is trying to block the band from registering “O-Town” [...]

  • Alyssa Milano

    Alyssa Milano Settles $10 Million Suit With Former Accountant

    Actress Alyssa Milano has settled a legal battle with her former accountant as the case was on the verge of going to trial. Milano and her husband, agent David Bugliari, filed suit in 2017, alleging that accountant Kenneth Hellie had forged her signature on checks, failed to pay overdue bills and taxes and allowed costs [...]

  • J Balvin ‘Amicably’ Parts Ways With

    J Balvin ‘Amicably’ Parts Ways With Longtime Manager Rebeca Leon

    J Balvin and his longtime manager Rebeca León have “amicably” parted ways, reps for the singer and León confirmed to Variety. The news was first reported by Billboard. León — who also oversees the careers of fast-rising Spanish singer Rosalia as well as Colombian superstar Juanes, with whom she founded Lionfish Entertainment — began managing Balvin early in his career [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Headshot

    Warner Bros. Taps BBC Studios Americas Chief Ann Sarnoff as CEO (EXCLUSIVE)

    Warner Bros. has tapped BBC Studios Americas president Ann Sarnoff as its new CEO, a surprise pick that is sure to shake up the venerable studio. Sarnoff becomes the first woman to head Warner Bros. in its nearly 100-year history. She was under the radar during WarnerMedia’s search for a successor to lead the studio [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content