It’s not just Twitch that’s rousing NMPA boss David Israelite again this week. He’s also been talking to Rolling Stone about the rate-setting process for mechanical streaming songwriter royalties in the US. And no, that’s not just the rates set in November 2018 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) for the next five years that Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora appealed against – a decision is still pending on that appeal – to the fury of publishers and songwriter bodies. No, Israelite is looking ahead to the start of the *next* CRB rate-setting process, which covers the period from 2023 to 2027.
The so-called ‘CRB IV’ (hopefully better than Jaws 4!) process begins on 5 January 2021, and Israelite told Rolling Stone that it is “the most important CRB trial we’ve ever had”. Its article is a very good primer on the big fight ahead, with US publishers planning to demand a much higher percentage of streaming services’ revenues than the 15% they get currently – in contrast to the around 52% that labels get.
“When I say it should be 50/50, there’s no way that happens overnight,” said Israelite. “It’s too radical of a change for anyone to swallow, including the record labels. But at least it gives us leverage to start to balance out the proposition. If the labels are getting 52%, there’s a lot of room from 15% [upwards] before you get to a 50/50 split. I don’t know where that settles out, but we hope it will be closer to 52% than it will 15%.”