The good news for Spotify is that something other than its Discovery Mode is causing a stink today. The bad news for Spotify is that the something is the ongoing battle over new streaming royalties for songwriters set in the US by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) – which Spotify along with Amazon, Google and Pandora appealed against.
To recap: the US Court of Appeals ‘remanded’ the new rates – sending them back to the CRB for procedural reasons, to be formulated again. Now a new argument is breaking out between publishing body the NMPA and the streaming services’ representative body DiMA over whether they should continue paying those remanded rates, until a new set are agreed.
You can guess how the opinions fall. “We understand Spotify and Amazon are considering cutting what little they pay songwriters during the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) remand process,” NMPA boss David Israelite told Billboard. “It appears that, rather than await the results of that appeal at the CRB – which we believe will uphold the songwriters’ raise – these multi-trillion dollar companies are doubling down on their assault against creators by lowering what they pay before we have a final determination.”
DiMA disagreed. “The findings from the court are clear – the Phonorecords III rates in question are vacated in their entirety, leaving the Phonorecords II rates and structure as the only enforceable standards for the industry,” said CEO Garrett Levin. “Our individual members will make their own business decisions in light of that reality, but rest assured, at the end of this process copyright owners and songwriters will receive the full amount of mechanical royalty payments they are owed as ultimately decided by the CRB.”
So, a new controversy, to tide everyone over until they’ve thrashed out the existing controversy, possibly (or possibly not) in time to get cracking on the even bigger controversy lying in wait: the process to set the next songwriter royalty rates, for 2023-2027. Which Israelite described in June as “the most important CRB trial we’ve ever had”. And at this rate, almost certainly the most rancorous.
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