Spotify is doing a great job of alienating the music industry right now.
Two months ago, in a split decision, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) published a significant streaming royalty increase for songwriters and publishers. The 44% increase – the first in 110 years – would force streaming music services to pay a lot more.
Apple Music quietly approved of the move. Spotify – along with Google, Pandora, and Amazon – didn’t. Each soon filed their own separate appeals.
Prior to the appeals, National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president David Israelite had sternly warned each company,
“NMPA and NSAI [Nashville Songwriters Association International] fought hard to increase songwriter royalties by 44%+.
“The digital music companies now have 30 days to appeal that ruling, and, in effect, declare war on songwriters.”
Publicly going on the offensive against the CRB, Spotify had attempted to defend its stance.
“The CRB rate structure is complex and there were significant flaws in how it was set.
“A key area of focus in our appeal will be the fact that the CRB’s decision makes it very difficult for music services to offer ‘bundles’ of music and non-music offerings.”
This rate structure, continued the company, would ultimately “hurt consumers.” They would lose access to these bundles.
The move didn’t sit well with top songwriters and music industry executives – including Irving Azoff.
On Twitter, Azoff wrote,
“Apple understands they’re in the artist business. Clearly, Google, Pandora, Spotify and Amazon don’t.”
Justin Tranter, who has written songs for Ariana Grande, Fall Out Boy, Justin Bieber, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Gwen Stefani, added,
“Without songs, these tech companies have nothing to stream/sell. Shameful.”
Others didn’t hold back.
Dina LaPolt, a notable music lawyer, took a more direct approach against the streaming music giant.
“Spotify, you cheap pieces of s—t. F—k you and your secret bulls—t Genius awards.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
To win over songwriters, the streaming music giant allegedly planned a series of town hall meetings. That move didn’t sit well with the industry.
Mark Beaven, Founder and Co-CEO of Advanced Alternative Media (AMM), warned songwriters,
“Spotify is getting pushback from songwriters and their supporters. So, it’s now campaigning to ‘make nice’ and put a friendly face and spin on things. They’re attempting to hold songwriter ‘Town Halls’ in both L.A. and Nashville.
“…songwriters should strongly consider not attending and advising Spotify they will not do so. [The company] had the opportunity to have such a Town Hall before making a challenge.
“Now they’re just trying to propagandize while the knife digs in deeper.”
As Spotify continues to reel from these attacks, the songwriter community – in a united front – has now penned an open letter asking the streaming music giant.
In an open letter penned to CEO Daniel Ek, hit songwriters, including Ali Tamposi, Frank Dukes, Teddy Geiger, Babyface, and Nile Rodgers, wrote,
“We’re hurt and disappointed. You created a songwriter relations team and ingratiated Spotify into our community.
“We know you’re not the only DSP (digital service provider) appealing the Copyright Royalty Board determination. You are, however, the only provider that made us feel we were working to build a modern music industry together.”
Continuing on, the songwriters expressed their outrage at the company.
“Now, we see the real reason for your songwriter outreach.
“You have used us and tried to divide us but we stand together.”
Explaining their fight is for “all songwriters,” especially those struggling to build their careers, those in the middle class, and “those few who have reached your Secret Genius Level,” the letter continues,
“But none of us are ‘secret!’ WE all create the ONE thing you sell – songs.”
Begging the company to rethink its CRB appeal, the songwriters conclude,
“Do the right thing and drop your appeal of the Copyright Royalty Board rate determination.”
You can view the full letter below.
Featured image by Spotify.