Apple Music Reportedly the Only Major Holdout in Appeal of Increased Royalties for Songwriters

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It has been a couple of months since the Copyright Royalty Board ruled that there would be an increase to the royalties paid out to artists via streaming services.

There is no doubt whatsoever that streaming music has become the go-to option for most music listeners. As a result, rules and regulations need to be updated on a semi-regular basis to help songwriters and musicians continue to make money. Even as the landscape changes. The CRB aligns itself with that sentiment, and, earlier this year, ruled in favor of a 44 percent increase to royalty payouts for songwriters.

With that in place, songwriters would be paid 15.1% of the revenue for streaming, versus the current 10.5 percent now in place.

While there are a variety of smaller streaming services out there, to which this change could have a heavy impact, it wqs believed the major players wouldn’t be concerned with the change. That means Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, and Pandora. However, Variety is reporting that the majority of these companies are actually quite at odds with that change, and would very much like to have it appealed.

“Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have teamed up to appeal a controversial ruling by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that, if it goes through, would increase payouts to songwriters by 44%, Variety has learned.

A joint statement from the first three of those companies reads: “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.””

While these companies are all jockeying for the same appeal, they all did file separately. But one company is standing out of this one. According to the report, Apple does not plan on trying to get an appeal of this rule. Which means, of all the companies, Apple is the lone holdout and appears to be in favor of the increase in paid royalties to songwriters.

David Israelite is the President/CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, and praised Apple for the company’s stance on the side of songwriters. However, for those other companies, Israelite wasn’t ready to be nice:

“When the Music Modernization Act became law, there was hope it signaled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters,” Israelite said in a statement. “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. … 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.” (The “genius” aside was presumably a dig at Spotify and its Secret Genius Awards, given to writers, producers and engineers.)”

The appeal is still being requested, so there is no decision on that part just yet. Still, it’s pretty sad to see these huge companies trying to clamp down on the money songwriters can make from the music people are streaming on those platforms. What’s more, it’s even a bit surprising that Apple is “on the side of the songwriter” when, let’s face it, that wasn’t always the case with Apple Music.

Just look back at the launch of Apple’s streaming music platform. The company was more than willing to skip paying artists of any kind for three months as it launched the service alongside a three-month free trial. That was heinous back then. But, if that helped the company see the light on this particular topic, it’s good to see it had a lasting effect.

[via Variety]