Dear Music Publishers: Please Pay Us Our Money from Your Facebook & Spotify Deals. Signed, Your Songwriters

Still No Deal as iHeartMedia Bankruptcy Inches Closer
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The following comes from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (BASCA), a group that has recently unveiled a new campaign called #soldforasong.

BASCA applauds the recent commitments by major labels to share in any financial benefits from Spotify’s forthcoming direct listing with their artists and associated indie labels, and calls for similar commitments from music publishers that any such benefits, direct or indirect, received by them from the pending Spotify direct listing or Facebook licence advances will be shared transparently and fairly with the writers they represent.

A decade after its launch, Facebook has recently concluded licensing agreements with the major music publishing companies. BASCA understands that those deals involve lump sum advance payments worth many millions of pounds.

There are concerns, however, that no pledge has been made by music publishers to equitably share any financial benefit derived from such licenses with songwriters and composers.

BASCA welcomes the news that going forward, Facebook is seeking to put in place music recognition technologies to ensure that future usage data is correctly reported to ensure songwriters and composers will be accurately remunerated. An ongoing issue, however, is that Facebook currently has no systems in place to identify the music used on their platform retrospectively.

BASCA is therefore seeking assurances from those music publishers that have concluded deals with Facebook that any so-called ‘unattributable’ income derived rom these deals is distributed equitably and transparently with songwriters and composers.

In addition, they are demanding that sufficient efforts are made to establish correct usage and not just to distribute monies via an ‘assumed’ market share analogy. BASCA also calls for any financial windfall received by the music publishing community from Spotify’s upcoming direct listing on the New York Stock exchange, which commentators suggest might value the company in excess of $19bn, to be shared honourably, fairly and transparently with those that composed the catalogues being exploited.

“The so-called ‘evergreen’ catalogue is arguably only so verdant because it has been historically over-watered in lieu of correct data.  With the potential of today’s technology for granular digital data such anachronistic inaccuracy is no longer excusable in music — the right music must receive the right monies. If it’s played it should be paid.”

— Crispin Hunt, BASCA Chair.

“Facebook and other user generated content platforms, as well as digital services such as Spotify have benefited incalculably from exploiting our members work and indeed this has allowed them to become among the world’s wealthiest corporations. They, and the publishers who license music to them, have an obligation and a duty to safeguard the future sustainability of our industry and to ensure that songwriters and composers are given their fair due of these potential riches.”

— Vick Bain, CEO of BASCA


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