Spin classes are ripping off songwriters, claims music exec

soul cycle should pay artists more royalties says exec studio
Courtesy of Soulcycle.

While those in charge of collecting music royalty fees always look high and low for new revenue streams, one music exec believes they’re missing out on significant funds from an unusual source: your local spin class.

Andrew Sparkler, the VP of Business Affairs at Downtown Publishing (and a former exec for music rights agency ASCAP), has penned an op-ed stating he believes that gyms, and their many fitness classes that rely on pumped-up musical soundtracks, exploit the songs they play more than concert venues, bars, and restaurants. And in Sparkler’s mind, that means they should fork out more cash.

Using popular spin class brand SoulCycle as an example, Sparkler explains that the services rely heavily on carefully curated music and should be subject to more expensive licensing fees than the “general” price.

Sparkler supported his argument using SoulCycle’s recent SEC filing, according to Billboard. The company called its product “a carefully curated ‘cardio party’ [that] is fueled by the personalities of our instructors, their uniquely crafted musical playlists and the energy of the room.”

Fitness clubs currently pay just a nominal fee to play copyrighted music. For example, performance rights organization BMI caps its per-venue license at a maximum of $2,123, according to the report. The blanket license gives the venue the right to play unlimited music, regardless of how many people are listening.

Based on SoulCycle’s SEC filing, Sparkler concludes that each SoulCycle location generates about $3.1 million in revenue, and believes that copyright holders are owed a larger chunk of that cash.

Sparkler also asks performance rights organizations (PROs) to reconsider how they divvy up funds from “general” licensing revenues, saying that the current methods do not fairly compensate less popular artists. He says that fees are “distributed using a number of inaccurate proxies… that overwhelmingly favors ‘Top 40’ hits,” according to the report. “Continuing to distribute these license fees by following a homogenized pop radio chart defies logic and underserves the vast majority of PRO affiliate songwriters and publishers.”

While Sparkler realizes collecting more royalties from SoulCycle and other fitness centers isn’t going to reshape the music industry, he believes that the additional revenue would make a significant difference to songwriters, who have been struggling to earn revenue in the streaming era.

It’s unclear whether performance rights organizations will take to his advice, but it’s certainly an innovative way for rights holders to bring in more money. If your spin class suddenly jacks up the rates — or stops playing music altogether — sometime down the line, you may have Andrew Sparkler to blame.

Home Theater

Amazon’s Echo Link and Echo Link Amp bring hi-fi sound to Alexa’s living room

Amazon's Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are designed to bring high-fidelity sound to your Alexa ecosystem. Are they worth the significant expense over a smaller Echo speaker, and how well do they integrate into a typical hi-fi system?
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now (April 2019)

Amazon Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be a major undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (April 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.

How to clean your records to keep them looking good and sounding sweet

Vinyl records are back in a big way, but the sound quality can suffer if you don't keep your collection clean. Check out our tips for keeping your vinyl and stylus immaculate, so you can hear every note of your favorite analog tunes.
Emerging Tech

Even a true rock god can’t smash this unbreakable 3D-printed metal guitar

Rock stars love to smash guitars. Geeky engineers love to build things using the latest high-tech tools. What happens when both parties meet? This "unbreakable" 3D-printed metal guitar.

These droolworthy albums are among the most expensive vinyl records of all time

From rare Beatles originals to one-off test pressings, these are some of the most expensive vinyl records on Earth — the kind of discs that make plaid-clad record collectors and average listeners alike green with envy. Or sticker shock…
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.
Home Theater

Celebrate Record Store Day in style with the best vinyl setups

From simple and affordable to sleek and swanky, these are our recommendations for incredible vinyl setups that will allow you to listen to your favorite records with outstanding fidelity and take your collection to the next level.
Home Theater

Record Store Day is here! Here's how to build a killer vinyl collection

Feeling the vinyl vibe? You're not alone. If you're interested in starting your own record collection and listening to tunes the analog way, we're here to help. This guide will take you through everything you need to know.

Amazon rumored to be launching free music-streaming service

Rumors are swirling that Amazon is planning to take on Spotify by launching its own free, ad-supported music streaming service. This seems to be a move aimed at Echo users in particular.
Home Theater

Surface Buds? Microsoft might make AirPods competitors, joining Amazon and others

Microsoft is reportedly hard at work developing its own true wireless headphone model to compete with top offerings from Apple, Samsung, and others. It's aiming to take on the AirPods and Galaxy buds with its own pair of portable in-ears.

You can get V-Moda’s excellent wireless over-ear headphones for just $100

In the market for a pair of Bluetooth headphones? You can get a pair of V-Moda's first-generation Crossfade Wireless for a third of their original $300 list price, a fantastic deal for a pair of great-sounding headphones.