Songwriters today have it a lot tougher than previously, thanks to streaming. While artists aren’t making a whole lot per stream, songwriters only make about 20% of that, and chances are it’s split with a publisher. Now a number of small labels have pledged to offer songwriter points, or a royalty derived from the master streaming revenue.
According to Billboard, four small independent labels, Facet Records, The Other Songs, Nvak Collective and Good Boy Records, will now offer 4 points to songwriters as a way to help them make a living. The points are split between all songwriters, so if there’s only one, he or she will receive all 4, but if there are 10 (like on many hip hop records), the 4 points is split between them.
There is an exception though, as the offer excludes writers who are also the artist or producer, since they already receive cuts of the master income.
The Shrinking Middle Class
One of the big problems for the music business in general is that the middle class of songwriters is being decimated. It used to be much easier to make a living wage back in the days of physical product, as a song with only moderate success would generate enough money to live on. That’s no longer the case in today’s streaming world, as it breaks down to more feast or famine (a lot more famine, in fact).
While this is a nice gesture from some very small labels, it won’t be enough to change things much unless larger indies, and even the major labels get behind it. That said, in the corporate musical world we live in, songwriter points is something that would probably be easier to carve out by a union, if there was one powerful enough that represented songwriters.
It’s a good place to start however, and much better than the alternative that songwriters have had to live with the last 20 years or so.