Streaming Services Fight Back Against New Songwriter Royalty Increases

The recent Copyright Royalty Board ruling that increased songwriter’s royalties by 44% was met with great satisfaction by both writers and publishers alike. The streaming services are not so happy though, as Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have all teamed up to appeal the decision.

While each organization filed a separate appeal, Apple Music has publicly stated that it will not join in the appeal, much to the satisfaction to publishers and writers everywhere.

David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, issued a statement that stated that publishers were taking the appeal quite seriously.

“When the Music Modernization Act became law, there was hope it signaled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters. That hope was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third. … No amount of insincere and hollow public relations gestures such as throwing parties or buying billboards of congratulations or naming songwriters ‘geniuses’ can hide the fact that these big tech bullies do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible.” (The “genius” reference was about Spotify’s Secret Genius Awards given to writers, producers and engineers.)

He went on:

“The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) spent two years reading thousands of pages of briefs and hearing from dozens of witnesses while both sides spent tens of millions of dollars on attorneys arguing over the worth of songs to the giant technology companies who run streaming services.

“The CRB’s final determination gave songwriters only their second meaningful rate increase in 110 years. 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.”

The CRB’s decision to raise rates was a 2 to 1 decision, and the appealing companies contend that they never received a chance to discuss the rate changes prior to the decision. Songwriters keep your fingers crossed.

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