Music Publishing Revenue Climbed 11% to $6.2 Billion in 2023, NMPA Reports

u.s. music publishing revenue in 2023
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u.s. music publishing revenue in 2023
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Photo Credit: NMPA

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) revealed U.S. music publishing revenue reached $6.2 billion in 2023—up 10.74% compared to 2022.

The NMPA held their annual meeting at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York and detailed publishing revenue, but also painted a target on Spotify’s back over its bundling scheme. NMPA President & CEO David Israelite detailed a complaint sent to the FTC by the trade organization, urging action from the government on Spotify’s bundling scheme. It’s estimated that Spotify will pay $150 million less in music royalties this year due to audiobook bundling.

The NMPA complained that Spotify is engaging in deceiving its customers by converting its millions of music subscribers to these new bundled plans without their content. The NMPA says Spotify is “failing to offer an option for subscribers to revert to a music-only subscription and is thwarting attempts to cancel through dark patterns and a confusing website interface.”

The organization is hoping the FTC will take action against Spotify’s bundling by highlighting that its Audiobook Access Tier is only available in the United States. The NMPA calls this a transparent attempt to game the United States’ unique rules established for royalties as laid out in the Phonorecords IV settlement that covers mechanical streaming royalties from 2023 to 2027.

The new headline royalty rate is 15.35%, which is to be phased in over a five-year term. That agreement was supposed to modernize the treatment of bundles of products or services that include music streaming—but the NMPA says Spotify is violating the spirit of that agreement. The rate now paid by Spotify Premium plans is now lower than the established headline rate for 2024 (15.2%).

“Spotify’s attempt to radically reduce songwriter payments by reclassifying their music service as an audiobook bundle is a cynical, and potentially unlawful, move that ends our period of relative peace. We will not stand for their perversion of the settlement we agreed upon in 2022 and are looking at all options,” David Israelite, President & CEO of NMPA commented shortly before launching the FTC complaint.

While much of the annual meeting was spent detailing the NMPA’s approach to Spotify’s bundling, not everything was glum from the music publishers. The NMPA issued awards to Lana Del Rey as this year’s Songwriter Icon receipient and Savan Kotecha, winner of the Non-Performing Songwriter Icon award. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was given the NMPA Iconic Song Award, with Ingrid Michaelson performing the music during the meeting.