Spotify and streamers call for new deadline to refund songwriter royalties
Spotify, Google, Amazon and Google have requested a deferral of songwriter royalty refunds before the amount owed has even been decided.
The US Copyright Royalty Board is expected to finally rule on royalty rates – a fight officially known as Phonorecords III which Apple has deliberately stayed away from – for streaming for 2018-22 in the coming days.
But although most are owned by huge tech companies that have cash on hand, music streaming services have appealed to the Copyright Office for more time to pay any likely increase in royalties.
Vapors blame the complexity of calculating and paying different tariffs for different time periods: “We have serious concerns about the ability to do all of this for each reporting category – simultaneously – within the regulatory timeframes.
“Their concerns must also be weighed against songwriters, who, as small businesses or individual creators, are the most vulnerable parts of the music ecosystem.”
As first reported by Varietyfive U.S. senators wrote to the Copyright Office slamming the request and expressing “serious concern about any request that would delay the payment of important and necessary royalties to copyright owners and [oppose] any grant by the Copyright Office of an extension.
“Digital music companies are among the largest and most sophisticated global technology companies,” the senators continued. the context of the vast resources they are able to marshal to meet these challenges. Their concerns must also be weighed against songwriters, who, as small businesses or individual creators, are the most vulnerable parts of the music ecosystem…. Accordingly, we ask that you reject the DLC request and ensure that, if any retroactive royalties are due, they are paid to the songwriters in a timely manner.
The National Music Publishers Association also wrote to the Copyright Office condemning the streaming services’ request.
Bruce Houghton is founder and publisher of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and acts as principal advisor to Groupsintown who acquired both publications in 2019. He is the founder and president of the Skyline Artist Agency and a teacher for Berklee College of Music.