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Streaming giant Spotify is facing a huge US$1.6-billion lawsuit, filed by music composition administrator Wixen Music Publishing, which contends the music site is using tens of thousands of songs without compensation or licensing. Wixen handles copyright management and royalty compliance for artists including Tom Petty, The Doors, Neil Young and Missy Elliot.

The company is the most successful in the music streaming business, with over 60m paying subscribers. Spotify has maintained it wants to properly compensate for the music it streams, but has not always been able to find the data to identify rights holders. It is reportedly valued at $19bn, and is expected to be floated on the stock market later this year. Multiple sources further claim Spotify is taking the unusual step of filing for direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange rather than for an initial public offering, which indicates that the company wants to start selling shares without first putting on a series of presentations to investors in what's commonly known as a roadshow.

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Spotify declined to comment when approached about the report. By pursuing a direct listing, Spotify can skirt underwriting fees typically required for an IPO, though the move could hurt its shares because underwriters won't be evaluating or buoying the price. But Spotify failed to properly obtain the equivalent rights for the compositions.

It also agreed a $30m settlement deal with National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) for unpaid royalties in 2016.

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Spotify has two outstanding lawsuits filed against it in July 2017, from publishers including Bob Gaudio of the group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

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