Spotify’s Royalty Decision Under Fire from Composers

Spotify, who’s streaming music service has quickly grown to become the largest of its kind, is on the defensive from music composers who are publicly criticizing the service for not supporting an increase in songwriter royalties.

In an open letter signed by several of the world’s most successful music composers, including Nile Rodgers, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Teddy Geiger and Mike Elizondo, the songwriters blasted Spotify, and founder and CEO Daniel Elk in particular, for appealing the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to boost royalty rates for songwriters.

“We are hurt and disappointed,” read the letter which was addressed to Elk. “You created a songwriter relations team and ingratiated Spotify into our community. We know you are not the only DSP appealing the Copyright Royalty Board rate determination. [Amazon, SiriusXM/Pandora and Google are also appealing the decision. Apple is not] You are, however, the only provider that made us feel we were working to build a modern music industry together.”

The composers alleged that  Spotify is trying to divide the songwriting community by singling out creative production talent though its “Secret Genius” programs and awards while fighting attempts to raise payments of royalty rates to those same professionals.

Other industry executives criticized Spotify’s decision. Irving Azoff, a longtime manager of the Eagles and other artists, as well as Justin Tranter, songwriter of hits by Fall Out Boy and Ariana Grande, criticized Spotify’s challenge of the new rates on their social networks.

Spotify has tangled with musicians before over copyright and royalty issues, most famously singer/songwriter Taylor Swift, who pulled her catalog of the streamer, but has since struck a deal to return her music to Spotify. Other artists over the years, have complained that Spotify’s payments to artists is too low and that artists get too little compensation for the amount of times a song is steamed. Spotify has denied these claims.

The CRB is proposing compulsory mechanical rates paid to songwriters by streaming services be boosted by 44% in five years.

Spotify had no response to the writers’ open letter.

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