A recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) ruling brought great news for songwriters in the US – with royalty rates for streaming and other mechanical uses set to rise 44% in the market.
Spotify and Amazon have now officially come out in opposition to the ruling, in what the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has called a “shameful” move which equates to “suing songwriters”.
On January 27, 2018 MBW reported on the CRB’s landmark decision, which stated that royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US from on-demand subscription streaming would rise by 44% over the next five years. That decision was ratified last month (February 5), when the CRB published the final rates and terms for songwriters.
Streaming companies were given 30 days to lodge official opposition to the ruling if they wished. The likes of Apple Music declined to do so – but it’s a different case for Spotify and Amazon, which have now both filed a notice of appeal. Pandora and Google have also asked the CRB to review its decision.
In a statement today (March 7), the NMPA said that a “huge victory for songwriters is now in jeopardy” due to the streaming services’ filings.
NMPA President & CEO David Israelite commented: “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.
“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.”
“Spotify and Amazon [have] decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third.”
David Israelite, NMPA (pictured)
In a clearly furious statement, Israelite continued: “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.
“We thank Apple Music for accepting the CRB decision and continuing its practice of being a friend to songwriters. While Spotify and Amazon surely hope this will play out in a quiet appellate courtroom, every songwriter and every fan of music should stand up and take notice. We will fight with every available resource to protect the CRB’s decision.”
“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.”
David Israelite, NMPA
NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) Executive Director Bart Herbison stated, “It is unfortunate that Amazon and Spotify decided to file an appeal on the CRB’s decision to pay American songwriters higher digital mechanical royalties. Many songwriters have found it difficult to stay in the profession in the era of streaming music. You cannot feed a family when you earn hundreds of dollars for millions of streams.
“Spotify specifically continues to try and depress royalties to songwriters around the globe as illustrated by their recent moves in India. Trying to work together as partners toward a robust future in the digital music era is difficult when any streaming company fails to recognize the value of a songwriter’s contribution to their business.”
Based on today’s actions, NMPA will also file a notice of appeal.
“If left to stand, the CRB’s decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision.”
Spotify, Google and Pandora joint statement
In a joint statement, Google, Pandora and Spotify – who are all asking the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the CRB’s recent decision – said:
“The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), in a split decision, recently issued the U.S. mechanical statutory rates in a manner that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns.
“If left to stand, the CRB’s decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision.”Music Business Worldwide