Spotify, Google, And Others Are Appealing A Ruling That Increased Streaming Royalties For Songwriters

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In January, The US Copyright Royalty Board issued a ruling that meant songwriters would receive a 43.8 percent raise in pay for their streams on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. However, streaming companies are not on board with the decision, and now Variety reports that Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon are appealing the ruling.

All four companies filed with the court separately, but Spotify, Google, and Pandora issues a joint statement that says, “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.”

David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, was not pleased with the companies’ action, and said in a statement:

“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. […] 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.”

Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, feels similarly, and he said in a statement, “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.”

Meanwhile, Apple reportedly does not plan to file an appeal. Israelite said of the company, “We thank Apple Music for accepting the CRB decision and continuing to be 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.”