The streaming giants are attempting to alter a decision to raise US royalty rates to 15.1 percent.
Along with Amazon, Google and Pandora, the streaming platform filed an appeal against a recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board that would increase songwriter royalties from on-demand streaming from 10.5 percent to 15.1 percent—a 44 percent increase—in the US over a five-year period.
Spotify used a blog post to attempt to justify the move, which has been slammed by groups representing the interests of songwriters and publishers, especially the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA). While Spotify claims to support a pay rise for songwriters, it goes on to assert that consumers will be "hurt" by an inability to bundle "music and non-music offerings," which it says are vital for "attracting first-time music subscribers so we can keep growing the revenue pie for everyone."
Spotify's argument implies rights holders and streaming platforms share the same revenue stream, and therefore unhampered growth of the streaming industry is in artists' best interests. It warns, "It's natural for everyone to want a bigger piece of that pie. But that cannot come at the expense of continuing to grow the industry via streaming."
Spotify closes by saying record labels will not lower licensing costs in sync with the rise in publishing returns, and that it wants to increase the scope of what is included in the publishing agreement, such as lyrics and video rights, ostensibly to protect its bottom line. (After 13 years in business, Spotify only turned a profit for the first time in February 2019.)
The post was an attempt to respond to a host of news pieces claiming the streaming giants were trying to "sue songwriters." The phrase came from a statement made by David Israelite, president of the NMPA, who went on to say, "No amount of insincere and hollow public relations gestures such as throwing parties or buying billboards of congratulations or naming songwriters 'geniuses' can hide the fact that these big tech bullies do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible."
Apple Music was the only streaming service that did not appeal the ruling.
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