- Peloton users are complaining that the quality of music in Peloton’s workouts has dropped since it was hit with a $300 million copyright lawsuit this year.
- A group of music publishers alleged Peloton had used music without obtaining the proper permissions. Peloton removed some recorded classes and stopped using a selection of popular songs from artists such as Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga in its workouts.
- Some users said it is discouraging them from working out.
- But Peloton president William Lynch told Business Insider in a recent phone conversation that the brand has “never been in a better position” when it comes to the music and member experience.
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Peloton users are complaining that the quality of music has dropped since it was hit with a $300 million lawsuit, and some say it’s making them want to work out less.
Rhona Harris, who owns one of Peloton’s $2,000 bikes, said she’s noticed a “huge difference” in the user experience in recent months.
“The music now consists of TONS of ’80s music (and not even good ’80s music for the most part — think doing an ab workout to a slow jam by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam), a few rap artists, and a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of for the most part,” she said in a message to Business Insider.
“It’s definitely made me steer away from the bike more than I used to. I am definitely not one of those ‘I’m just so addicted to exercise’ people … I run a business from home with my husband and have four teens, so the escape of the music was a huge draw for me as I’m a huge music lover … unless we’re talking crappy ’80s tracks, in which case no thanks,” she said.
Read more: Exercise-bike startup Peloton filed for IPO and revealed a long list of risk factors that investors should know
In March, Peloton was sued by a group of music publishers seeking $150 million in damages in a copyright lawsuit. The publishers alleged Peloton had used music without obtaining the proper permissions.
Shortly after, Peloton CEO and cofounder John Foley wrote a letter to Peloton members informing them that it would no longer offer classes featuring the more than 1,000 songs by artists that were named in the lawsuit. These included songs by artists such as Drake, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake, he said.
“While you may notice this in the near time, I can assure you that this will not affect your experience with our service,” Foley wrote.
But many members felt differently and it wasn’t long before complaints flooded in on Reddit.
“The majority of the Pro Cyclist rides are gone now,” one member wrote on Reddit at the time. “This was actually a huge loss.”
“Wow this is crazy. I checked to see what rides I could retake and over half of them are gone,” another wrote.
“Only 53 classes still available out of the 205 I have done,” another said.
The situation only got worse. In August, the National Music Publishers added a further 1,200 songs to the lawsuit and doubled the damages it was seeking to $300 million.
Fellow Peloton rider Chris Razaki told Business Insider in a Facebook message that he’s lost about 60% of the rides that he took on a frequent basis.
“The frustration is that they were reactive on this when they knew it would be an issue. They also haven’t communicated about it as a public company,” he said.
Rhona Harris said that one of the main reasons she’s been so frustrated by this is because a class in which she received a shoutout from the instructor was deleted after this lawsuit. (All live classes end up in on the on-demand section and users are free to take part in them as many times as they like after).
Libby Smith, a 41-year-old mother of two from Houston, Texas said she had a similar issue.
Smith was given a shoutout for her 100th ride in a class earlier this year, of which around 5,000 people were logged in to, she said, making it especially exciting when the instructor called out her username.
“‘LibbyLibbyLuuuu, come on!'” the instructor shouted out to the crowd. “I was like, ‘that’s me!’ she said in a recent phone conversation with Business Insider. “It was so exciting. I thought it was a really good ride physically but I also really loved the music.” The class has since been removed.
Still, she doesn’t see why people are complaining about the quality of the music.
“There is so much content to choose from but there are people who have been like: ‘No, there’s not very good music.’ From what I have noticed it seems to be heavier in the hip-hop community that people are feeling limited in the music selection.
“Because I dont listen to it [hip-hop] all the time, I didn’t really notice a difference but I feel like that is a hot topic on the Peloton page, people have been very opinionated about the lack of music selection that they used to have.
“But I’m like, ‘there are like 10,000 workouts and you can’t find one?’ Like, seriously?” she said.
Two other Peloton bike users that spoke to Business Insider said they hadn’t had any issues with the music or noticed a change in the music since March.
Peloton has brushed away any concerns about this. In a phone conversation on the day the company went public, Peloton president William Lynch told Business Insider that the brand has “never been in a better position” when it comes to the music and member experience.
“We have the largest catalog of music than any connected fitness provider in the world, we have over one million songs that we can play across all the genres, and we signed a major record label and major publishers,” he said, adding that they are adding over 950 classes a month. He also said that Peloton hasn’t lost one member over this. A spokesperson for Peloton declined to comment because of the ongoing litigation.
Despite Lynch’s comments, the company is clearly aware that music licensing could become a bigger issue for the company. In its S-1 filing ahead of its IPO, it listed this as being one of the biggest issues it could face.
“We cannot compel third parties to license their music to us,” Peloton wrote in the filing. “And our business may be adversely affected if our access to music is limited.
“Given the high level of content concentration in the music industry, the market power of a few licensors, and the lack of transparent ownership information for compositions, we may be unable to license a large amount of music or the music of certain popular artists, and our business, financial condition, and operating results could be materially harmed,” the company wrote in the filing.
It also said that it couldn’t guarantee it wasn’t “infringing or violating any third-party intellectual property rights” with the music already on its service because of the complexity of licensing agreements.
At this point, the music isn’t enough to make Harris ditch Peloton completely, but she’s definitely not using the bike as much as did, she said, and that’s a concerning change.
If you are a Peloton user with a story to share, please contact this reporter at email@example.com.
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