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SONGWRITERS SHORTCHANGED ON STREAMS?

A damning report from the U.K. suggests that songwriters aren’t getting paid what they are rightly owed from streaming services nor in any sort of timely fashion. The Music Managers’ Forum has some solutions.

Written by CMU and produced in partnership with the Music Managers’ Forum, the $ong Royalties Guide points out that songwriters should be seeing the benefit of the growing streaming economy, with the song share on that income being double what was earned on a CD.

Reports from songwriters and their managers, however, suggest that’s not the case, due to the “inefficient process via which song royalties from streams are processed and paid.”

Any number of music industry institutions are sitting between the streaming services and the writer, who see money passed through a complex royalty chain through which multiple deductions and sometimes years of delays are occurring. On the other hand, the report found that self-releasing artists are often paid within weeks of tracks being streamed. 

As a result of the report, the MMF has put forward six recommendations that it would like to see adopted. These are:

Greater transparency. Data around royalty chains, rights ownership, admin fees and payment schedules must be made available.

Reveal the disputes. Collecting societies and music publishers should proactively alert songwriters when disputes occur with their rights that could halt payments.

Global licensing. We must reduce the number of links in the royalty chains. New services and new markets should not be licensed locally, and license renewals should be global wherever possible. 

Quicker payments. As an absolute minimum, songwriters should be paid within nine months of a track being streamed. 

Black Box reform. Attributable or uncollected streaming revenues should never be redistributed by market share. There should be consultation within the songwriting community to find alternative distribution processes.

Campaign for change. Songwriters, managers and accountants must push their publishers and collecting society partners to actively and urgently address licensing inefficiencies. Industry growth should be equitably shared by all.

You can read the full report here.  

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