Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier urges songwriters to 'speak out' against Spotify royalties appeal

Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier urges songwriters to 'speak out' against Spotify royalties appeal

The publishing and songwriting community has already voiced its outrage over efforts by Spotify and other streaming services to overturn increases in US royalty rates. Now one of the big guns of the sector has weighed in and piled more pressure on Spotify.

Martin Bandier, outgoing CEO and chairman of Sony/ATV, has written to the publisher’s songwriters about the move by Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora to appeal the Copyright Royalty Board royalty rates in the US. Apple is not involved in the appeal. 

In early 2018, the US Copyright Board decided to raise on-demand streaming subscription rates for publishers and songwriters from 10.5% of revenues to 15.1%

In his letter, Bandier described that new rate as “a significant victory for songwriters”.

“However, the hard-fought win is now under threat as Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora have filed notices to appeal these rates,” he added. “If Spotify and the other streaming services are successful with this appeal, it may result in a reduction in the royalty payments that songwriters will receive from the streaming services.”

The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has already slammed Spotify for “misleading spin” after the streaming giant published an anonymous blog outlining its reasons for challenging the new rate.

I am incredibly disappointed that Spotify and the other companies have chosen to attack songwriters by appealing the long-overdue rate increases

Martin Bandier

The NMPA has announced that it will withdraw its CRB appeal – a move it described as the “only avenue for anyone to clarify elements of the CRB ruling” – if the streaming services do the same. It also posted its own “fact check” response to Spotify’s blog

“I am incredibly disappointed that Spotify and the other companies have chosen to attack songwriters by appealing the long-overdue rate increases,” said Bandier. “The move flies in the face of everything that I have fought for on behalf of songwriters for fair-market rates. Songwriters are unquestionably the most important contributors to the success of the streaming services and deserve the benefits of the new rates that we worked so hard to achieve.

“While Sony/ATV will work diligently and closely with the NMPA to protect these new rates, there are no more important or effective voices on this issue than those of songwriters themselves. I therefore urge you to make yourselves heard and to speak out against this appeal.”

Seeing as Sony/ATV represents some of the biggest songwriters in the world - from Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran to Taylor Swift and Cardi B - it will be interesting to see which high-profile artists respond to Bandier's challenge to weigh into this battle.

The latest row follows Spotify’s clash with Warner Music Group over the streaming giant’s launch in India. It has also lodged a complaint with the EU against Apple over alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

The full text of the Bandier letter is below:

 

Dear Songwriter,

I am writing to update you about some important developments for songwriters in the U.S. regarding the mechanical royalty rates that the Copyright Royalty Board set last year.

As you may recall, in January 2018 the CRB set a series of new rates that include an increase to the statutory mechanical rate for on-demand streaming from 10.5% of revenue to 15.1% of revenue over the period 2018 to 2022. This was a significant victory for songwriters.

However, the hard-fought win is now under threat as Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora have filed notices to appeal these rates. Apple has decided not to appeal. If Spotify and the other streaming services are successful with this appeal, it may result in a reduction in the royalty payments that songwriters will receive from the streaming services. As a result, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has announced that it will also file an appeal but will withdraw that appeal if the services do the same.

I am incredibly disappointed that Spotify and the other companies have chosen to attack songwriters by appealing the long-overdue rate increases. The move flies in the face of everything that I have fought for on behalf of songwriters for fair-market rates. Songwriters are unquestionably the most important contributors to the success of the streaming services and deserve the benefits of the new rates that we worked so hard to achieve 

While Sony/ATV will work diligently and closely with the NMPA to protect these new rates, there are no more important or effective voices on this issue than those of songwriters themselves. I therefore urge you to make yourselves heard and to speak out against this appeal. At the same time, we will be sure to update you as events develop.

Regards,

Martin Bandier
Chairman & CEO
Sony/ATV Music Publishing

 

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