UK Songwriters Society Launch Campaign Calling for 'Equitable' Share of Facebook & Spotify Deals

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U.K. songwriters' body Basca is calling for music publishing companies to share the spoils of recent licensing agreements with Facebook - as well any "financial windfall" resulting from Spotify's upcoming listing.

Launching its #soldforasong campaign, The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors said it wanted music publishers to follow the example of major labels and commit to sharing Spotify stock proceeds with the songwriters and composers they represent.

The London-based organization, which includes Paul McCartney, Kate Bush and Chris Martin among its members, wants publishing companies to "transparently and fairly" share any advances received from recent license deals with Facebook, which it said, "involve lump sum advance payments worth many millions of pounds."  

Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Universal Music International Publishing, Kobalt Music Publishing and Wixen Music Publishing (via a deal with French authors' society Sacem) are among the publishing companies who have agreed license deals with the social media network over the past three months.

Without naming any individual companies, Basca said it was concerned that "no pledge has been made by music publishers to equitably share any financial benefit derived from such licenses with songwriters and composers."

Another potential issue is that Facebook currently has no systems in place to identify music used on its platform retrospectively, said the songwriters' body. It therefore seeks assurances from publishers that any "un-attributable" income derived from license deals would be shared "honourably, fairly and transparently with those that composed the catalogues being exploited."

Basca is additionally demanding that sufficient efforts are made to establish correct usage of songwriters' work and not just distribute payments via an "assumed" market share methodology.

"The so-called 'evergreen' catalogue is arguably only so verdant because it has been historically over-watered in lieu of correct data," said Basca chair Crispin Hunt in a statement launching the #soldforasong campaign.  

He went on to say that with today's technology enabling the monitoring of "granular digital data" such inaccuracies are no longer excusable and "the right music must receive the right monies. If it's played it should be paid."

"Facebook and other user generated content platforms, as well as digital services such as Spotify have benefited incalculably from exploiting our members work and indeed this has allowed them to become among the world's wealthiest corporations," added Basca CEO Vick Bain.

"They, and the publishers who license music to them," she continued, "have an obligation and a duty to safeguard the future sustainability of our industry and to ensure that songwriters and composers are given their fair due of these potential riches."