Country Artists, Songwriters Speak Out as Spotify, Amazon Music + Other Streaming Platforms Appeal Payout Increase Ruling
Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, Google and Apple Music were put on notice in 2018 when the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) ruled that payouts to songwriters would increase by 44 percent over the next few years. Four of the online streaming music titans are pushing back with a request to the U.S. Court of Appeals, contesting the ruling -- and facing backlash from songwriters, including many within the country music community.
"The CRB’s decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners," a joint statement from the streaming platforms Spotify and Amazon Music reads (quote via Variety), which Pandora and Google are backing as well (Apple Music is not contesting the ruling in any way). "Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision.”
In response, a number of songwriters have spoken out on social media, calling for the streaming giants to reconsider their position. Many are sharing screenshots of the notices they received after canceling their music streaming subscriptions.
"It’s sad to see the powers that be undermine the hard work their employees have put in to build bridges to the songwriting and publishing communities," songwriter Luke Laird writes on Instagram, with a screenshot of his Spotify cancellation notice. Adds Chris DeStefano in a similar post, "Just making music more easily accessible does NOT mean it will be sustainable ... This will not stand. We must fight with everything and all resources possible."
Notably, the current payout increase that's being contested would bring royalties from .003 cents to .004 cents. “Instead of accepting the CRB’s decision, which still values songs less than their fair market value, Spotify and Amazon have declared war on the songwriting community by appealing that decision," David Israelite, President and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, says of the appeal. "No amount of insecure and hollow public relation gestures ... can hide the fact that these big tech bullies do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible.”
The move is affecting not just career songwriters, but artists who write as well. "As an indie artist with no major label, I need all the support I can get," singer-songwriter Lucie Silvas shares on Twitter, "but would rather have none than watch the very core of what we do suffer.
"I’m a songwriter and I respect every songwriter out there. Without songs, there’s nothing," she continues, "so where’s the sense in this?"
In a blog post, published on Monday (March 11), Spotify explains that while they believe that songwriters deserve to be paid more, and that they are supportive of the CRB's royalties hike, they believe there are "significant flaws" in the plan.
"A key area of focus in our appeal will be the fact that the CRB’s decision makes it very difficult for music services to offer 'bundles' of music and non-music offerings," the blog post explains. "These bundles are key to attracting first-time music subscribers so we can keep growing the revenue pie for everyone."
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