Streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google, and Pandora recently filed documents with the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) stating what they want to pay songwriters between the years 2023-2027.
The filings are part of the Copyright Act, which requires a copyright royalty judge to conduct hearings to decide mechanical royalty rates streaming services must pay artists every five years. A mechanical royalty is a payout that an artist receives whenever a copy of their song is made. According to online platform Royalty Exchange, current mechanical royalty rates on streaming services are about $0.06 per 100 on-demand streams.
David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), has called the current proceedings “the most important CRB trial we’ve ever had.”
Contents of the filings have yet to be made public. In a statement to Music Business Insider, however, Israelite said that “Amazon, Spotify, Apple, Pandora and Google have proposed the lowest royalty rates in history.”
These current proceedings are part of a larger battle fought between songwriters and streaming services. In January 2018, a CRB hearing awarded songwriters the largest royalty rate increase seen in the CRB’s history. Following the decision’s ratification, Spotify and Amazon appealed the ruling in what the NMPA called a “shameful move” that equates to “suing songwriters.”
In 2020, the U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee launched an investigation into streaming’s impact on artists. The probe’s findings caused musician’s rights organization Union of Musicians and Allied Workers to launch a campaign against Spotify’s practices.