Music streaming giant Spotify is bulking up its team of government affairs experts whose job is to liaise with regulators and government officials.
In job ads spotted by MBW on its website and on LinkedIn page, Spotify appears to be looking for a New York, Los Angeles or Washington D.C.-based Director of Global Music Policy within the Government Affairs team; a Sao Paulo-based Government Affairs Lead for Latin America; and a London-based Head of UK Government Affairs.
The job openings come as Spotify grapples with regulatory hurdles in numerous markets, and as its CEO, Daniel Ek, continues to wage a lobbying campaign against major tech giants for regulatory reforms to online stores such as the Apple Store and Google Play.
The Director of Global Music Policy will “provide strategic advice and external advocacy on music policy-related matters that have an impact on Spotify in key markets around the globe,” the company said in the job post. “The position can be based in several locations and will work in a global context. You will report to the VP, Head of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy.”
The position requires 12 or more years of experience “dealing with music policy issues as well as related regulatory proceedings and law-making processes,” and “strong knowledge of global digital music licensing regimes.”
The job also requires “relevant private or public sector experience (country-level intellectual property office or other Government) advising on relevant policy issues” and “a history of effective advocacy before a wide range of government officials.”
Among other things, the position could mean going up against Apple and Google in the halls of political power. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has been crisscrossing the globe in an effort to convince governments to weaken the power held by the Apple and Google Play stores.
Apple is known to charge third-party app developers, such as Spotify, up to 30% in fees on sales made through its App Store, and regulators have accused it of engaging in “anti-steering” practices, which prevent services like Spotify from informing iPhone and iPad users about services they can purchase outside the app store.
“I find it insane that two companies [Apple and Google] essentially control how over 4 billion consumers access the internet around the world,” Ek said in an interview with the Financial Times during a recent visit to the UK. “Not only are they dictating the rules, they also compete directly downstream with those providers.”
That’s in reference, at least partly, to the fact that Apple Music and Google-owned YouTube Music are direct competitors to Spotify in the music streaming space, while also owning the services that Apple and Android device users are required to use to download Spotify and other apps.
Ek’s lobbying trip to the UK follows a similar sojourn to the US earlier this year, where Ek met with congressional leaders in an effort to convince them to pass the US federal Open App Markets Act, which would prohibit companies like Apple and Google from engaging in “anti-competitive practices” in app markets.
Among other things, the law would require operating systems developers to allow the “sideloading” of apps, so that users don’t have to go through the OS’s official app store to install software.
That bill – a bipartisan effort from Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, also a Democrat, and Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee – stalled in last year’s congressional session when the Senate Majority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, chose not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Both Apple and Google opposed the legislation.
“I find it insane that two companies essentially control how over 4 billion consumers access the internet around the world… Not only are they dictating the rules, they also compete directly downstream with those providers.”
Daniel Ek, Spotify
Another item of legislation – the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill, currently working its way through Parliament – is now in Ek’s crosshairs, with the Spotify Co-Founder and CEO pushing for an aggressive approach to the Apple and Google stores.
Under this proposed law, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be given new authority to fight “excessive dominance” of large tech firms, with the power to impose multi-billion-pound fines on those companies.
It’s unclear to what extent the CMA will be willing to use these new powers. In an investigation completed last year – following a report from Parliament calling for a “complete reset” of music streaming royalties in the UK – the CMA concluded that the major record labels are “[not] likely to be making significant excess profits that could be shared with creators” in the streaming music space.
Ek’s focus in the UK legislation has been the Apple and Google online stores, telling the FT that the new legislation needed to ensure that “if you want to be the referee, you can’t also be the player… If we’re going to pass the DMCC regulation, it needs to have real teeth.”
As reported by The Drum on Tuesday (October 10), Spotify has taken print ads in national newspapers in the UK this week in support of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.
Tom Connaughton, Managing Director of Spotify UK and Ireland, told the Drum in a statement that, “Apple and other big tech companies like it are causing UK consumers to pay more and controlling their digital lives”.
Spotify’s LinkedIn ad for a Head of UK Government Affairs says the person filling the position will “engage regularly with policymakers with a focus on Parliament and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) as well as UK regulators such as OFCOM and the CMA.”
This person will work on ”the priority public policy issues affecting Spotify in the UK — including music, competition, content regulation, consumer law and more – and develop and implement effective advocacy strategies.”
The position requires at least 10 years of experience “developing and implementing public policy strategies and interacting professionally in a public policy environment.”
Spotify’s ad for a Global Affairs Lead, Latin America, comes at a time when Latin America is one of Spotify’s fastest-growing markets. It also comes as the company finds itself in a conflict with the government of Uruguay over proposed changes to copyright law that could potentially require streaming services to pay royalties directly to music performers, on top of payments they already make to record labels and songwriters (i.e. owners of recordings and published music).
Those changes would add “social networks and the internet as formats for which, if a song is reproduced, the performer is entitled to financial remuneration.”
“If implemented, and Spotify were forced to pay twice for the same music, it would make our business of connecting artists and fans unsustainable in this market. Spotify would then have no choice but to stop being available in Uruguay.”
Spotify is opposing the legislation, currently working its way through Uruguay’s Parliament, on the argument that it would mean it would be required to pay twice for streaming the same content.
“If implemented, and Spotify were forced to pay twice for the same music, it would make our business of connecting artists and fans unsustainable in this market. Spotify would then have no choice but to stop being available in Uruguay, to the detriment of artists and fans,” the company said in a statement issued to MBW.
Located in the Sao Paulo office, the Government Affairs Lead, Latin America, will “work as part of the global government affairs team, coordinating closely with subject matter experts on the team, as well as other groups throughout Spotify in order to develop thoughtful, effective, consistent positions on the issues of greatest importance to our company,” Spotify said in its job posting.
The position will have “a focus on Brazil” but will also involve “other key Latin America markets.” It will be focused “on the priority public policy issues affecting Spotify in Latin America – including music, competition, content moderation and more – and develop[ing] and implement[ing] effective advocacy strategies.”
The job requires seven or more years of “direct experience developing and implementing public policy strategies and interacting professionally in a public policy environment.”Music Business Worldwide