May 15, 2024 - News

Nashville songwriters sound alarm on Spotify payouts

An image of the Spotify logo

Photo: Dilara Irem Sancar/Anadolu via Getty Images

The Nashville Songwriters Association International said this week that Spotify's move to combine music and audiobooks for subscribers will hurt royalty payouts to songwriters.

Why it matters: Subscription streaming services are the bedrock of the music industry, and Nashville's songwriters rely on fair payouts to make a living.

Driving the news: Earlier this year, Spotify announced it would add audiobooks to its premium subscription services.

State of play: NSAI and other trade groups released statements this week bashing Spotify's decision and hinting at a possible legal battle.

  • Music publishers and songwriters have gotten along fairly well with Spotify in recent years. In 2022, publishers and songwriters agreed to a royalty rate settlement with Spotify.
  • A few years earlier, songwriters collaborated with Spotify and other streaming services to support Congress in passing the landmark Music Modernization Act.

What they're saying: In a statement, NSAI called on Spotify to "reverse course" and offer music subscriptions at prices that lead to "fair" payments to songwriters.

  • "This attempt at lowering royalty payments to an already beleaguered songwriter community is in the worst bad faith and a perversion of the Copyright Royalty Board settlement ... agreed to in 2022. It counters every statement Spotify has ever made of claiming the company is friendly to creators."

The other side: Spotify released a statement earlier this year defending its decision to bundle the services.

  • "Spotify is on track to pay publishers and societies more in 2024 than in 2023. As our industry partners are aware, changes in our product portfolio mean that we are paying out in different ways based on terms agreed to by both streaming services and publishers," Spotify said.
  • "Multiple (digital service providers) have long paid a lower rate for bundles versus a stand-alone music subscription, and our approach is consistent."
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