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Songwriter criticizes low royalty payments from streaming services
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NewsPoster
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Sep 24, 2015, 07:19 AM
 
The debate over royalties paid by streaming music services became more intense, after a songwriter revealed how little they were paid for a major hit. Speaking at a roundtable discussion about music copyright hosted by the House Judiciary Committee, it was claimed by a co-writer of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" that he received under $6,000 in royalties from streams, a figure he insists is not enough to live on.

Kevin Kadish told the panel of music industry representatives and house representatives that songwriters typically receive around $90 per million streams on services like Apple Music and Spotify, reports The Tennessean. For his contribution to Trainor's hit, Kadish claims to have been paid just $5,679 for approximately 178 million streams. "That's as big a song as a songwriter can have in their career and No. 1 in 78 countries. But you're making $5,600. How do you feed your family?" asks Kadish.

While usually the payment argument revolves around agreements between streaming services and record labels, the issue this time is with copyright law itself. Ars Technica notes that songwriters are paid a "mechanical license" that is not negotiable, as it is a figure set by the US government. The Songwriter Equity Act is a proposal that would change copyright law to fix this issue, establishing a "fair rate standard" for mechanical licenses and potentially raising payouts.

Discussions during the session also touched upon the creation of a centralized music copyright database, suggested by the US Copyright Office earlier this year, as a way to simplify music licensing and make it more transparent. While a number of attendees agreed that there must be an increase in transparency concerning royalties, it was unclear whether it would be better for the proposed database to be run by the government or a private entity.

Earlier this week, Pandora revealed it had provided more than $1.5 billion in royalties to record labels, with close to $500 million paid in the last 12 months, though the service did not break the figure down to say how much went to artists or songwriters.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Sep 24, 2015 at 12:04 PM. )
     
Inkling
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Sep 24, 2015, 08:01 AM
 
These pitiful payments apparently go back to the era of AM radio when musicians and songwriters wanted air time. Radio stations were few and the only alternative were records, so if you heard a song and wanted to hear it again without listening to the radio all day, you bought it. Today's market is different. Streaming services are not only numerous, they let you hone down your selections so you hear only what you want. They substitute for buying rather than encourage it. Like virtually everything else in copyright, these laws need revision.
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burger
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Sep 24, 2015, 09:31 AM
 
Ok, but how much did they make including everything beyond streaming and how many songwriters were the royalties split between?

Are we to assume this is the only source of income Kevin has? One song and streaming royalties only? Are you supposed to be able to live on partial streaming royalties for one song? Seems far fetched to me.
     
jeb20
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Sep 24, 2015, 10:08 AM
 
It's not far fetched. I know Kevin and what he said is straight up. When you work for yourself, you might have months between gigs. What happens if you can't sell a song for a year? The larger picture is simple. Everyone from all sides is cutting the amount of money they pay to artists. On the tv side, half the time they don't pay ANYTHING anymore unless its network television or a scripted series. You're expected to make it up on the back end. Here's the thing though, what happens if that show you worked on for free gets canceled after two episodes and you, have music in 10? Of well right? There is a lot more at stake that what meets the eye.
     
phillymjs
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Sep 24, 2015, 10:27 AM
 
"How do you feed your family?" Uh, write more songs, maybe? Did this guy expect to write one hit song and then retire?
     
Charles Martin
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Sep 24, 2015, 12:15 PM
 
phillymjs: no, but is it unreasonable to expect that a song which was a MASSIVE hit would generate more income than six grand? Hits are rare, even for the best songwriters (ask Brian Wilson!). He certainly should have earned enough to live off for a few years off that, and indeed as recently as 10 years ago, he would have.
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growlf
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Sep 24, 2015, 02:20 PM
 
Charles Martin: Yes, it is unreasonable.

He is dealing with the realities of the market and the profession he chose. We all have to do this. If our jobs do not earn us the income to survive, then we move on. If the controlling companies or performers are grabbing the profits, then stop working for them. They will either find people to do the work (computers should be more than capable of generating 80% of modern music), or they will re-evaluate how they treat their employees.

"It isn't fair" isn't an answer here. This is the market economy we live in. There are plenty of things that "aren't fair" for all of us, and we have to do the best we can. We don't get an audience with Congress simply because we don't make the amount of money we think we should.
     
pairof9s
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Sep 24, 2015, 03:57 PM
 
The age-old cry of one-hit wonders: "I never got my fair share!" Right or wrong, it's been going on long before streaming music or even digital songs.
     
burger
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Sep 24, 2015, 04:37 PM
 
That song has over a billion plays on Vevo/Youtube. What are Kevin's royalties for that streaming service?
     
coffeetime
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Sep 24, 2015, 11:18 PM
 
Translation: She makes millions. Where's my share?
     
dprimary
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Sep 25, 2015, 02:11 AM
 
Ask the record companies and publishers where all the money is going. Using the lowest spotify royalty rates of .006 cents per stream times 178,000,000 streams is $1,068,000.00 and the co writer gets 6K he should look at his contracts.
     
quebit
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Sep 25, 2015, 02:25 AM
 
The elephant in the room is: How much did the label make off of those streams? Once that question has been put forth, the real dirty monster will show its head. The labels are the black hole of profit, where all the artists and songwriters are paid fractions of a penny, but the label is taking their 70%. This shouldn't fall on the lap of the streaming providers .... it should be pointed right back at labels. What's their value proposition for the cut that they're getting? Especially in this day and age, where discovery is pretty cheap.
     
   
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