Swedish Songwriters Push for Fair Share of Streaming Music Revenues in Open Letter

Daniel Ek
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Swedish songwriters have a bone to pick with digital music streaming services, which they say are not allocating a fair percentage of their revenue to the people who actually write the songs. In an open letter published on Monday in Aftonbladet, 133 songwriters and producers from regional rights society STIM call for a more balanced approach in the distribution of digital revenues.

The letter cites a survey by global authors' rights body CISAC which found that songwriters are ending up with only 3 percent of streaming revenue from Spotify in the U.S., with the rest going to labels and publishers. STIM points out that there hasn't been a similar study done in Europe, but that "the allocation of revenue here surely doesn't differ substantially."

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Because digital music services and record labels do not disclose exactly how much they are paying, the songwriters believe their "voices are seldom heard" in the debate about streaming as a business model -- all this despite "the vast majority of music gracing the sales and streaming chart is created by songwriters who are not artists."

Songwriters can't rely on touring and merchandising revenue for income, they say, and are not being "compensated in any other way for the loss of income experienced due to the digital market." The result could be that "very few songwriters will be able to afford to create music other than as a hobby."

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting between the Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (SKAP), labels, Sweden-based Spotify and others to discuss how digital revenues are divided. 

"The digital revolution has meant that record companies drastically reduced their costs of production and distribution of music," the letter reads. "In recent years, the record industry in Sweden flourished thanks to Spotify, and indications are that Europe and the rest of the world will follow suit. But the songwriters, investing time and money into creating the music service offering, have not received anything back. It is therefore high time to create balance in the distribution of digital revenues."

STIM members outline three areas where industry stakeholders should focus on:

The first step should be greater transparency. Spotify, other digital services and record companies make use of so-called NDA, Non-Disclosure Agreements to prevent transparency in the distribution. STIM and the other collecting societies are forced to write on these confidentiality agreement and shall not reveal even to its members the breakdown. Their suppliers - songwriters - must not know how much they get paid for their products -- the songs.

The second step should be to find an allocation model that allows the whole industry to thrive , not just the record labels and distributors who live on the values we musicians produce.

The third step that should be discussed is that very few of streaming services endeavored to add credits to the songwriters and producers. We think it is not right that those who created the music also should get credit for it.

The 133 signatories:

Lasse Andersson

Tomas Andersson Wiij

Johan Becker

Johan Bejerholm

Daniel Bengtson

Anoo Bhagawan

Arnthor Birgisson

Peter Boström

Jonas von der Burg

Niclas von der Burg

EagleEye Cherry

Robert "string" Dahlqvist

Adrian Davinski

Joy Deb

Linnea Deb

Mohs Denebi

Ana Diaz

Niklas Edberger

Olle Ekberg

Per Eklund

David Elfström Lilja

Jade Ell

Lina Eriksson

Mårten Eriksson

Peter Alexander Esbjörnsson

Annika Fehling

Oscar Fogelström

Mikael Frithiof

Tobias Fröberg

Magnus Funemyr

Aleena Gibson

Daniel Gidlund

Daniel Gilbert


Irya Gmeyner

Thomas Gson

Robert Habolin

Peter Hallström

Thomas Hanna

Oscar Harryson

Mats Hedstrom

Uno Helmersson

Patrik Henzel

Louise Hoffsten

Anton Hard Af Segerstad

Henrik Janson

Martin Jarbeck

Niklas Jarl

Niels Jensen

Andreas Jismark

Andrew Johnson

Karina Kampe

Magnus Kaxe

Jackie Kavan

Niclas Kings

Jorgen Stewart

David Kruger

Jimmy Lagnefors

Anders Larsson

Tim Larsson

Caroline Leander

Peter Cetera

Ari LeTennen

Mattias Lindblom

Helienne Lindvall

Martin Lorentzson

Patrik Lorentzson

Tobias Lundgren

Niclas Lundin

Malin Maggie Lübeck

Bernard Lohr

Rikard Löfgren

Viktor Lofgren

Henrik Lörstad

Awa Manneh

Erik Martensson

Andrew Matthews

Peter Jacobson Moren

Per Magnusson

Tony Malm

Marcus Maria

Johan Moraeus

David Myhr

Anders Nilsson

Henry Nordenback

Johan Norrby

Erik Nyholm

Mats Nyman

Thomas Nyrre Nystrom

Pauline K Olofsson

Emanuel Olsson

Ollie Olsson

Per Olsson

Jonas Quant

Eric Palmqwist

Miqael Persson aka Hicks

Pettersson, Niklas

Eddie Rahmati

Johan Ramström

Sigurd Resnes

Anders Ringman

Elias Ringquist

Leah Muscat Rodo

Asa Rydan

Anders F Rönnblom

Sigurd Rosnes

Hanif Hitmanic Sabzevari

Erik Sahlen

Ken Sandin

Jerry Sillah

Frederick Sonefors

Wind Sonnvik

Nicklas Stenemo

Dan Sundquist

Markus Svensson

Andreas Söderlund

Fredrik Söderström

Anna Ternheim

Frederick Thomander

Max Thulin

Peo Thyrén

Johanna Toth

Mats Tärnfors

Samuel Waermö

Johan vegna

Christian Waltz

Par Wiksten

Anders Wikström

Henrik Wikström

Anders Wollbeck

Jonas Moonchild Zekkari

Frederick Fredro Ödesjö

Frida Öhrn

Stefan Örn