Streaming war: Spotify and Amazon appeal against 44% royalty rise in the USA

Streaming war: Spotify and Amazon appeal against 44% royalty rise in the USA

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) recent ruling - with royalty rates for streaming and other mechanical uses set to rise 44% in the market - was warmly welcomed by songwriters in the US. But now most of the bigger players in the music streaming arena have reacted.

Indeed, streaming companies were given 30 days to lodge official opposition to the ruling if they wished. Apple Music declined to do so – but Spotify and Amazon both filed a notice of appeal. Pandora and Google have also asked the CRB to review its decision. In a joint statement, Google, Pandora and Spotify – who are all asking the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the CRB’s recent decision – said:

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), in a split decision, recently issued the U.S. mechanical statutory rates in a manner that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns. If left to stand, the CRB’s decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision.

The NMPA immediately issued a response together with the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) - curiously, it refers only to Spotify and Amazon. The statement suggests that what had been seen as a “huge victory” for songwriters is now “in jeopardy”. NMPA boss David Israelite said:

When the Music Modernization Act became law, there was hope it signalled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters. That hope was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third. The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) spent two years reading thousands of pages of briefs and hearing from dozens of witnesses while both sides spent tens of millions of dollars on attorneys arguing over the worth of songs to the giant technology companies who run streaming services. The CRB’s final determination gave songwriters only their second meaningful rate increase in 110 years. Instead of accepting the CRB’s decision which still values songs less than their fair market value, Spotify and Amazon have declared war on the songwriting community by appealing that decision. We thank Apple Music for accepting the CRB decision and continuing its practice of being a friend to songwriters.  While Spotify and Amazon surely hope this will play out in a quiet appellate courtroom, every songwriter and every fan of music should stand up and take notice. We will fight with every available resource to protect the CRB’s decision.