Will Spotify come to rue its decision to challenge an agreed royalty rate rise for songwriters in the United States?
As MBW reported on Thursday (March 7), Spotify and Amazon – alongside Google and Pandora – have submitted a legal objection against a ruling from the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) which was set to increase streaming payouts to songwriters in the United States by 44%.
This move could, undoubtedly, end up saving Spotify a bit of money. But will the damage suffered by the company’s reputation be worth it?
Spotify and Amazon have been highlighted as the particular “bad actors” in this scenario by David Israelite, President & CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which has been a key architect in convincing the CRB to make its decision.
Since news broke about Spotify’s objection to the ruling, very senior figures in the music business have issued damning statements on the matter. They have also praised Spotify’s fiercest competitor, Apple Music – which stood alone in refusing to object to the CRB ruling.
Irving Azoff tweeted: “Apple understands they’re in the artist business. Clearly, Google, Pandora, Spotify and Amazon don’t.”
“Apple understands they’re in the artist business. Clearly, Google, Pandora, Spotify and Amazon don’t.”
Irving Azoff (pictured)
That sentiment was shared by Justin Tranter – one of the world’s most successful modern pop songwriters, whose work has been recorded by the likes of Ariana Grande, Fall Out Boy, Justin Bieber, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Gwen Stefani.
Reacting to MBW’s reporting of Amazon and Spotify’s appeals, Tranter wrote: “[Without] songs these tech companies have nothing to stream/sell. Shameful.
“For the first time in 110 years songwriters get an increase in royalties based on how much the music business has changed in that time, and this is how tech companies react. Wow.”
“[Without] songs these tech companies have nothing to stream/sell. Shameful.”
Tranter wasn’t alone amongst his peers in this view. Other industry power players have also taken to social media sites to raise deep concerns about Spotify’s actions.
Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and DJ, Frank Dukes, wrote: “I find it really disappointing to see a company like Spotify not support the people behind the songs that make their business model possible.
“We as creators sacrifice so much for our art and it’s disheartening to see the lack of respect from a billion dollar company that profits from our work. Spotify please do what’s right and drop your appeal.
“This is a direct attack on the people who make your platform possible. We need to do better than ‘business as usual’.”
Duke’s samples have been used in songs by major artists including Camila Cabello, Travis Scott, Drake, Kanye West, Post Malone and The Weeknd.
“Spotify please do what’s right and drop your appeal. This is a direct attack on the people who make your platform possible.”
Elsewhere, Kenny MacPherson, founder and CEO of independent publisher Big Deal Music, is encouraging songwriters to “mobilize” against Spotify and Amazon’s appeals.
“This is completely messed up,” he said of the news. “Jeff Bezos is probably the richest man in the world and Daniel [Ek] is on his way. They created a great product, so why not support another great creation – SONGWRITING.”
Multi-platinum songwriter Ross Golan is the founder of acclaimed podcast … And The Writer Is, in which he interviews many of his peers.
Interestingly, Golan was also a dynamic advocate of the Music Modernization Act last year, whipping up broad and influential support amongst the global songwriting community for the US bill.
“Shame on streaming services who are fighting this rate increase for songwriters who are just trying to pay for food!”
He reacted to the Spotify news by writing: “Take your f*cking foot off our necks! Shame on streaming services who are fighting this rate increase for songwriters who are just trying to pay for food!”
Golan called on the “#musicarmy” to “put your money where your mouth is”, praising Apple Music as “the only streaming service who supported us”.
Speaking on a new MBW podcast about the Spotify/Amazon issue, NMPA boss David Israelite says: “Songwriters are important business partners to Spotify, but they’re treated instead like indentured servants. It’s insulting, it’s something that I think the songwriter community is getting fed up with, and I think this may be the final straw that breaks the back of [that] relationship.”
“I can promise you that no-one in the songwriting community is going to believe that Spotify cares, at all, about songwriters after taking this action.”
David Israelite, NMPA
He added: “I can promise you that no-one in the songwriting community is going to believe that Spotify cares, at all, about songwriters after taking this action.”
Dina LaPolt, founder of LaPolt Law, tweeted: “Spotify you cheap pieces of shit — Fuck you and your secret bullshit genius awards. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
“You too Amazon Music. Grow a set.”
“Spotify you cheap pieces of shit — Fuck you and your secret bullshit genius awards. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Dina LaPolt, LaPolt Law
And Shelly Peiken, who has co-written hits for the likes of Christina Aguilera and Meredith Brooks, wrote: “Spotify [is] suing songwriters against [a] royalty increase!”
She encouraged her fellow songwriters to “switch to Apple Music”, adding: “Sometimes you have to take your biz away from peeps who [are] f*cking you until they do the right thing!”
In September 2017, MBW wrote a popular piece which carried the headline: Spotify must now show songwriters the respect they deserve, or risk a backlash.
That backlash is now properly underway – and ferociously so.Music Business Worldwide