Spotify faces lawsuit from Essence Festival over “willful exploitation of black culture”.

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Spotify is facing a lawsuit at the Essence Festival in New Orleans

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Photo credit: Essence Festival

Spotify is facing a lawsuit from the Essence Festival of Culture for “willful exploitation of black culture.”

The lawsuit alleges that their intellectual property was used to promote an event hosted by Spotify without Spotify’s permission “as if they were part of the festival.” The Essence Festival is a major draw for Louisiana and New Orleans economic impact of $327 million yearly. The lawsuit seeks compensation from Spotify for holding an event “within a zone where only licensed businesses may advertise or sell Essence Festival-related merchandise.”

The lawsuit also cites the fact that the breach occurred after a 2019 agreement between Spotify and Essence. This agreement authorized the use of Essence Festival’s trademarks to promote and host an event that was advertised only as the “House of Are and Be” that year.

The agreement was intended to be part of a larger longer-term partnership, but after the pandemic forced the cancellation of Essence Festival 2020, negotiations stalled. Spotify didn’t renew its deal with Essence Festival when it promoted the 2022 event, which it described as a “return.”

“The promotion of the 2022 event … as a ‘return’ to its success reinforced Spotify’s awareness that such an event would … require Essence’s approval,” the lawsuit reads conditions. Attorneys for Essence argue that Spotify’s advertising and unauthorized use of Essence Festival constitutes “brand dilution, brand confusion, damage to the company’s reputation and loss of business opportunity.”

“The unauthorized Spotify action … is another example of the historic, deliberate exploitation of Black culture, Black intellectual property, Black creators, Black businesses and Black equity,” the attorneys’ statement said. “We must protect and honor those businesses that work with our businesses to create and give back value in our communities, and defend our rights and values ​​against those who choose to exploit our businesses and community.”