Comedian Lewis Black has asked Spotify to remove his body of work to support fellow comedians.
Black made the request after Spotify yanked down hundreds of comedy albums on November 24. An ongoing dispute between Spoken Giants and Word Collections has led to a dispute concerning comedians earning royalties on their written work as well. Unlike songwriters, comedians do not earn royalties for their written work.
“I in no way represent all of the comedians on Spotify, but I do believe that all of them should be paid for the writing that they have done and not just for the performance of what they wrote,” Black told TIME in a recent statement.
“It has taken a long time for comedy to be recognized as an art form. Therefore, Spotify should recognize that a joke is as powerful as a lyric of a song, which they do pay for.”
Tiffany Haddish, Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart, and John Mulaney are just a few comedians who have had work removed. Black says since his Grammy-nominated 2020 album Thanks for Risking Your Life wasn’t removed in the purge, he’s actively seeking its removal from Spotify.
“Since I haven’t been taken off, I would like to be, as it is wrong that I am on the platform and so many aren’t. I need neither the money nor the exposure, but please put all of the comedians back on your platform and let’s sit down and find a way to pay us what we are owed for the words that make you laugh. Yes, a joke is intellectual property.”
Spotify says a resolution is on the shoulders of Spoken Giants.
“It’s imperative that the labels that distribute this content come together to resolve this issue to ensure this content remains available to fans around the globe,” a Spotify spokesperson says. But those streaming royalties are a pittance to comedians – just like they are to musicians and songwriters.
Comedian Kyle Kinane tweeted his streaming earnings, showing an average of around $2,000 a month. “And the chart shows my money from all streaming, not just Spotify and Pandora,” he clarified. “I average $2k a month from my entire catalog.”