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Music

Streaming Services Must Hike Songwriter Payments Nearly 50%, Court Rules (bloomberg.com) 88

An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: 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.
"The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved," argues the NMPA, "resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.

"While an effective ratio of 3.82 to 1 is still not a fair split that we might achieve in a free market, it is the best songwriters have ever had under the compulsory license... The decision represents two years of advocacy regarding how unfairly songwriters are treated under current law and how crucial their contributions are to streaming services."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has introduced a bipartisan "Music Modernization Act" to overhaul the rate court, and to create a new governing agency to issue blanket licenses to streaming services and then collect and distribute the resulting roylaties.
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Streaming Services Must Hike Songwriter Payments Nearly 50%, Court Rules

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  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday January 28, 2018 @02:41PM (#56021287)
    ... I'm OK with it. My concern is that the publishers and "music catalog owners" will get an overwhelmingly large share of the money, leaving only cookie crumbs to the songwriters and artists.
    • ... I'm OK with it. My concern is that the publishers and "music catalog owners" will get an overwhelmingly large share of the money, leaving only cookie crumbs to the songwriters and artists.

      One could be fairly ambiguous with the title "artist", but songwriter I would hope would be pretty damn specific from a legal perspective, and focus the rewards on those who actually deserve it.

      • ... songwriter I would hope would be pretty damn specific from a legal perspective ...

        Since it was a publishers' association that brought the case to court, I'm not optimistic. I'd really like to be wrong, though. It wouldn't not be the first time I've heard about publishers diverting a lot of the money to themselves while saying it is going to artists.

    • My concern is that the publishers and "music catalog owners" will get an overwhelmingly large share of the money

      Speaking as an artist, I can tell you that the publishers do get a huge share of at least the compulsory license royalties, This is because, by law, compulsory royalties are collected by organizations operated by the publisher associations. Besides the publishers' "cuts", these organizations also take a percentage as a processing fee and require artists to pay "annual membership dues". Any royalties intended for artists who don't pay said dues are kept by the organizations.

    • Yeah, most of the articles on this emphasize "songwriters", but when you look into the details, it's actually the labels and publishers who get an increased percentage and if someone who actually wrote or performed the song gets any more money it'll mostly be because of the details of their contract after the labels and publishers get their cut. So to call this an increase for "songwriters" is fairly misleading. At best, an increase for rights-holders and music distribution/promotion managers.

  • Let the music industry try to make their own streaming service. I'd love to see the crap that produces.

    • The music industry should closedown the music it sends to Spotify and Pandora.

      Let the streaming industry try to make their own content. I'd love to hear the crap that produces.

      • Let the music industry try to make their own streaming service. I'd love to see the crap that produces.
        Let the streaming industry try to make their own content. I'd love to hear the crap that produces.

        Whoever wins, we lose.

        • The ones who lose are the ones who let these companies be the gatekeepers and tastemakers of music.

          It's hard to get away from them entirely, given that (for example) the majority of radio stations in the country are owned by them, but I do my best. I flip the radio off, plug my phone into my car by 3.5mm cable (no Apple tax either), and listen to whatever MP3s and FLACs I damn well please. Plenty of it's made by people with no industry affiliation I paid directly, or by dead people, or people who have chos
      • See also: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon...

        My prediction, should they try this, is exactly what happened to video streaming services. They would make a modest amount of good quality music that, apart from one or two minor hits, essentially nobody will listen to because it's too niche or only those who use their particular service has a chance to hear it.

      • I think we're already hearing it. But, if you get into the science of it, you'll find that it is what the mainstream user wants.

        As the traditional music industry has lost control, music has been gradually becoming simpler, louder, and more homogenous. Why? Because there is no elitist industry determining what we get to hear for us. The mainstream users are finally getting the upper hand and they don't want to hear what more musically "gifted" people say is good.

        There are many fields or aspects of culture th

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          music I pay attention to has been gradually becoming simpler, louder, and more homogenous

          FTFY. More music of all sorts is generated. But without the gatekeepers telling you what you should like, you have to put in the effort to search it out yourself. And frequently as you note, short-term "popular" songs are not the same as long-term "good" songs.

          Of course a lot of the websites don't make it particularly easy. Their algos will certainly take into account the things you've marked as "Like" (or whatever they call it in their system,) but it also takes into account things like "most popular"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, that sounds easy enough to fix.

    • There used to be a time where professions with writing had actual writer training or education. And there existed proofreading and editors so that mistakes were far and few between. Also, I think /. uses a trolling algorithm where they seek low quality writing by design.
  • Money breakdown (Score:5, Informative)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday January 28, 2018 @04:16PM (#56021899)
    This got me curious how a dollar earned by Spotify is split up [manatt.com].
    • 58.32% sound recording owners
    • 29.38% Spotify
    • 6% mechanicals
    • 6.12% performance

    It looks like Spotify's share will go down from 29.38% to 24.78%. (The details of the 10.5% "mechanical" rate that's being increased are in footnote 3, which I've read twice and still don't really get.)

  • Squeeze the guys playing by the rules harder, forcing them to push price hikes to their customers.
    It's not like the guys who run Pandora are bajillionaires from it. Yet there seem to be lots and lots of millionaire musicians?

    I'm sure this won't drive anyone to piracy at ALL.

    • by geek ( 5680 )

      Musicians have always made their money on concerts. Thats one of the reasons The Grateful Dead never gave a shit about bootlegs. The draw and money was you paying to come see them. These days thats too much work. Musicians, and I use that term very generously, these days want to release an album and then go party and buy shit to show their bling.

      Music just isn't what it used to be. I look at the top charts and I struggle to find one that even plays an instrument. I haven't been to a concert since the 90's b

  • "While an effective ratio of 3.82 to 1 is still not a fair split that we might achieve in a free market, it is the best songwriters have ever had under the compulsory license...".. How is this not a free market? So many streaming services, where some are even illegal streaming services. The song writer / singer is free to use whatever platform.. No? Or choose not to use their own platform. Didn't a bunch of music producers even create a platform just to give more money back to the artists? How is that goin
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Sunday January 28, 2018 @06:18PM (#56022633) Homepage

    I'm assuming it's the latter as the CRB likely doesn't have the right to renegotiate artist/label contracts. Which means the record labels are simply going to be cashing in more. Hopefully they won't pull any bullshit like adjusting rates accordingly so artists still get as much of a percentage as before, and artists will benefit equally (whatever that means, given the atrociously low percentages artists get for their works).

  • As usual the music cartel want their cut from revenue as if the cost of storing, managing, and delivering their product for them is zero. The cartel well knows that if it was "of profit" their own "Hollywood accounting" would be used against them.

  • Next up is higher pay for in the music industry, spotify's own earnings decrease and decrease as more and more fees are added to pay for the music industries greed. Then spotify goes belly up, and music industry loses a gigantic boatload of easy money. Comes up with all kind of excuses and why it's not their fault.

  • Sounds like a massive overreach by the Government. They really need to stay out of private contracts between adults. The only reason the courts should be involved is if someone broke the law. In addition, if the songwriters are not happy with the terms, don't sign. Maybe I am crazy, but I don't see any good long term benefit from this. As always the Government will expand this further. For those of you that support this action I hope some day when the Government starts reaching more and more into your priva
  • I get the indignity of the percentages, the cut from revenue and not profit, the general disgust for the music industry, but what about the government? Why does the government need to be involved at all? Since when does the government negotiate contract rates and business deals? This seems wrong in all kinds of ways.

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