Songwriters Score Win Over Streaming Services With Pay Hike

Updated on
  • Artists’ share of revenue increased to 15.1% from 10.5%
  • ‘Good day for songwriters,’ bad one for Spotify, Pandora

A Copyright Court Just Scored a Big Win for Songwriters

Songwriters will get a larger cut of revenue from streaming services after a court handed technology companies a big defeat.

The Copyright Royalty Board ruled that songwriters will get at least a 15.1 percent share of streaming revenues over the next five years, from a previous 10.5 percent. That’s the largest rate increase in CRB history, according to a statement from the National Music Publishers’ Association.

The decision is a major victory for songwriters, who have long complained they are insufficiently uncompensated by on-demand music services like Spotify and YouTube. Streaming services account for the largest share of music industry sales in the U.S., while global streaming sales jumped 60 percent in 2016, according to the IFPI.  

“It’s a good day for songwriters,” NMPA president David Israelite said. “This is the first time the court has litigated the contribution of songwriters to these digital platforms.”

Songwriters had also been pushing to get paid each time a song is streamed. Israelite said the rate increase made up for that defeat. 

The decision was made after a trial in which NMPA and the Nashville Songwriters Association International represented music publishers and songwriters against Alphabet Inc., which owns YouTube and Google; Inc., Apple Inc., Spotify Technology and Pandora Media Inc.

The ruling will increase costs for Spotify, the world’s largest paid online music service. It already says it loses money because of the cost of music rights.

(Adds detail on ruling beginning in fifth paragraph.)
    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE