Latin Music Week

Sony/ATV Chief Urges Songwriters to Speak Out Against Streaming Services' Royalty Rate Appeal

Matt Furman
Martin Bandier

"The move flies in the face of everything that I have fought for on behalf of songwriters for fair-market rates," wrote Martin Bandier in a letter to clients Thursday.

More pressure is mounting against Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon from publishers and songwriters over plans to appeal the Copyright Royalty Board's (CRB) rate determinations. On Thursday (March 14), Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman and CEO Martin Bandier issued a letter to clients encouraging them to speak up against the streaming services' actions. 

The letter updated songwriters on the current issue, which sees streaming services looking to lower the 44 percent increase in royalties granted to songwriters and publishers by the CRB. The new rates would span a four-year term from 2018 to 2022, with a headline rate increase from 10.5 percent of revenue to 15.1 percent of revenue -- something Bandier called a "hard-fought win."

Apple Music is notably the only major streaming service not appealing the ruling. 

"If Spotify and the other streaming services are successful with this appeal, it may result in a reduction in the royalty payments that songwriters will receive from the streaming services," wrote Bandier. 

These would be the first appeals filed against Section 115 determinations for music publishing rates. Earlier this week, National Music Publishers' Association announced it would also file an appeal, unless the streaming services withdrew theirs. 

"I am incredibly disappointed that Spotify and the other companies have chosen to attack songwriters by appealing the long-overdue rate increases," Bandier continued. "The move flies in the face of everything that I have fought for on behalf of songwriters for fair-market rates. Songwriters are unquestionably the most important contributors to the success of the streaming services and deserve the benefits of the new rates that we worked so hard to achieve."

When Spotify, Google and Pandora announced their appeals last week, the companies issued a joint statement saying the CRB's 2-1 split-decision ruling raised "serious procedural and substantive concerns." It continued, "If left to stand, the CRB's decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision."

Bandier concluded his letter saying Sony/ATV will work "diligently and closely with the NMPA to protect these new rates," but that songwriters should also get involved. 

"There are no more important or effective voices on this issue than those of songwriters themselves," the wrote. "I therefore urge you to make yourselves heard and to speak out against this appeal."

As previously announced, this month Bandier will step down from his position leading the industry-leading publisher Sony/ATV.