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Spotify & Other Streaming Giants Are Fighting Songwriter Royalty Increases… Still
Making a living as a songwriter is, well, not easy. While the industry's transition toward streaming has opened a lot of doors for music makers, it's also made scraping together enough income to sustain a career very challenging. With that in mind, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has done something to help out, giving songwriters a solid win with their recent royalty rate increases. All good news, right? Not so fast…
The same streaming giants who have built the new music model on the backs of music creators – Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon – are continuing to fight the CRB's royalty rate increases, attempting to leverage their massive corporate heft to avoid paying songwriters what the CRB has determined is fair.
On Tuesday, March 10, the above-mentioned four streaming platforms’ (with Apple Music notably absent as the current No. 2 largest streaming service globally) appeal of the CRB’s 2018 decision to increase songwriter royalty rates by 44 percent was heard before the DC Circuit Court. This appeal has reignited the fight over royalty rates with songwriters seeking only to uphold the CRB's decision and these streaming services hoping to dodge the pay increase.
Many songwriters are watching this story closely, as Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon are essentially suing to not have to pay songwriters the rates determined by the CRB. Despite pleas and pressure, the platforms have not backed down from their appeal. From here it will be up to the DC Circuit Court to determine an outcome.
Since the appeal was filed in 2019, songwriters have rallied around the issue and raised their voices in other impactful ways. Last April, a group that included GRAMMY winners Nile Rodgers, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Greg Kurstin wrote an open letter on the matter directed specifically at Spotify. In it, they call out the top streaming platform for its disingenuous relations with songwriters and asking Spotify to, "Do the right thing and drop your appeal of the Copyright Royalty Board rate determination."
Everyone can get involved to send this same message to Spotify and the other platforms. Contact the companies’ Board of Directors to let them know you stand with the songwriters who write the music they sell. It's time to pay these professionals the fair rate determined by the CRB, not continue to line streaming platforms pockets with more cash.