Don’t let Spotify Monetize your #BlackGirlMagic

This open letter and call to action is co-authored by Janeya Griffin, Founder & CEO of The Commercializer, and Patrice Perkins, principal attorney of Creative Genius Law — first appeared on

Dear Beautiful Black Queens,

2018 has been a successful year for Black Excellence, but specifically for us Black Women. #Blackgirlmagic has been at an all time high. From politics to businesses and beyond, we have showcased our true power as transformational leaders on the world’s global stage. However, many people have capitalized on this magic and leveraged it for their own success without giving us our just due beyond obvious, immediate payouts. Obviously, this isn’t anything new, but now is the time to really pay attention to our intellectual assets (our ideas).

“Social media” went into a frenzy when Spotify announced a new podcast contest for the chance to attend the Sound Up Boot Camp and win $10,000 to support these efforts. The day before the music streaming giants’ IPO, Spotify released this announcement geared towards helping women of color launch a new podcast, giving women an opportunity to submit unique content and learn the podcast trade. This also included a free, all expense paid trip to the Big Apple, NYC. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well let’s see.

Here’s what we know: In Jeff Goins’ book, Real Artists Don’t Starve we were reminded that Jay-Z retained ownership of his masters as an early legacy-building strategy. Last month, 2 Chainz made the same move. Necole Kane of built an independent content platform that was acquired by Will Packer earlier this year. Online television network, Black&Sexy TV, owned by Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch started on YouTube but transitioned to their independent platform. A few years ago, they licensed the series RoomieLoverFriends to BET and continue to retain ownership of their content. Across industries, we’re seeing black content creators leveraging their intellectual assets for more -- revenue, wealth or control so that they have the freedom to choose how to leverage it later on.

So, here’s the question: How does that $10,000 prize (ultimately, a short term gain) impact the revenue generating and wealth building potential of your creative assets in the long term? Let’s find out.

First, if you’re not selected and Spotify decides to launch a podcast of their own strangely similar to the concept you pitched... you have no recourse.

If selected, Spotify will own an exclusive license to your content. Specifically they will own:

  •  A fully paid (meaning you aren’t entitled to a dime for anything beyond the $10,000),
  • Royalty free (you know how artists receive a royalty each time their music is streamed on Spotify, you won’t receive that),
  • Transferable (Spotify gets to transfer this right to anyone),
  • Sub-licensable (they get to grant the same license you granted them to anyone and potentially get paid),
  • Perpetual (lasting forever more with no end date),
  • Worldwide (self-explanatory), to use your name, likeness, etc....

It only gets worse from there. Spotify isn’t gifting you $10,000. They are paying you $10,000 in exchange for very broad rights to your content and your likeness forever more. If you’re just starting out, you may think that the exposure outweighs the opportunity. Give yourself more credit. If you’re winning this thing, it’s because you deserve to do so and your content is brilliant. The value of your content and your likeness will rise with time. And, according to these terms, you’ll be stripped of opportunities to generate additional revenue from content created on Spotify’s platform. Those opportunities will far exceed the $10,000 gained up front. Content Creation is an intellectual property (IP) asset that should be protected and a part of the generational wealth conversation. Using IP for monetization is key. We talk about ownership, we talk about wealth creation and innovation, but then we let other cultures leverage and monetize what we currently own, without getting anything that will increase our level of wealth or our future generations during that process.Although it's difficult to agree with Spotify’s terms. As a culture we cannot continue to point the finger. Spotify is doing exactly what they should --utilizing resources and lean strategies to increase their bottom line. It’s up to us to do our due diligence to make sure terms we agree to are favorable and allow us to own our intellectual assets to help generate wealth for not only ourselves, but our families.

Intellectual property is not some elusive concept that lawyers toss around, just because. It’s actually a major way to level the playing field of Black America. We are insanely creative people but taking the steps to protect the ownership of our creative assets could allow us to build generational wealth, spurred by our creativity alone. But, we have to slow down and always think big picture first.

At this point, you may be reevaluating Spotify’s motive for this boot camp and even questioning their ethics. However, that is not the aim of this letter.

This is a call to action! 

While Spotify’s call for women of color to produce more podcasts is great, at the end of the day Spotify, and companies akin, still have a job, and that is to generate revenue. You have a job as well, that goes way beyond creating, and that is to protect ownership of your intellectual property and monetize your creative assets for generations to come.

We’re not saying Spotify is all bad. What we’re saying is, Read and understand the fine print, especially when it comes to ownership and terms that attempt to place a value on your intellectual property.

Intellectual Property = Generational Wealth  

Your content is queen. It’s no secret that content distribution deals with independent creators can come with an offer price of more than $10,000. So, think about the long term— how might today’s “opportunity” limit you in the future? What future opportunities will you have to leave on the table? How will the value of your stock increase between now and then? Then, make a fully informed decision from there. It may be too late, since you’ve already submitted, but it’s never too late to use this as a learning experience that will help you with future decisions.

It’s time we start focusing on generating wealth, monetizing our own intellectual assets, and stop these big brands from monetizing our magic for their corporate gain. It’s time for you to bet on you. We aren’t saying it will be easy but we are saying that it will be worth it.

Respectfully, your sisters in IP,

Janeya Griffin - The Commercializer™️ & Patrice Perkins - Creative Genius Law

(Photo: Getty Images)


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