Spotify, Amazon, Google & Pandora accused of 'suing songwriters'. How did we get here?
At the end of last week, the deeply concerning news emerged that streaming giants Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora, were effectively ‘suing songwriters’. Yes, you heard that correctly. Songwriters VS streaming giants. Sounds pretty crazy, right? Here’s how we got here...
In 2018, the US-based Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) announced that royalty rates for streaming and other mechanical uses were to rise by 44% over 5 years. This announcement was met with widespread elation within the songwriting community, who were about to receive their first pay-rise in 110 years (according to the CRB). However, after this decision was officially ratified last month (February 2019), all hell appears to have broken loose.
Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora have all submitted official legal appeals, in a move that has enraged many within the songwriting community. In particular, President & CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), David Israelite:
“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 face that these big tech bullies do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible.”
However, in a joint statement, Spotify, Google and Pandora have attempted to justify their actions for the following reasons:
“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”
All of this leaves us to wonder whether the economic landscape of the music industry is as positive as recent growth reports seem to show. Both streaming giants and songwriters are struggling to make profits from music. One thing is for sure - working against each other, rather than with each other, doesn’t look like solving this anytime soon. After all, what is the music industry without those that make the music?