Thank you Aloe Blacc: Streaming Services Need to Pay Songwriters Fairly | WIRED

I would like to elaborate on two arguments being made in the comments of the article (link at the end of this article):

Argument: labels should better compensate songwriters / authors

This argument stems usually from a basic misunderstanding of how music is created and who does which job. A songwriter writes a song. He then licenses this song to whoever wants to use it and is generally only paid a fee for the song if it is commissioned, which, as far as I know from colleagues, is a rare case because most of the times, the songwriter writes his songs and then shops them around. The songwriter profits when the song is being used. Usages are

  • duplication (CDs, vinyl, etc)
  • performance (concerts, public mechanical performance like radios/jukeboxes in businesses like bars, hairdressers etc)
  • broadcasting (TV, radio, cable, satellite)
  • downloads (iTunes, Amazon etc…)
  • streaming (Spotify, Deezer, Beats, etc…)
  • film (use of a pre-exisitng work in a film)

In all of the above use cases except film the songwriter has very little to no personal influence on the level of compensation. The license fees are set / negotiated between the performance rights organisations (PROs) and the businesses behind the use cases above. Once a song is published the songwriter _must_ license his works under theses conditions and the PRO _must_ license to anyone asking. It’s called a compulsory license.

 Argument: a stream pays more than a radio spin

While it is true that streaming does in fact compensate better per “person” consuming the work, we have to look at this from a different perspective to make it obvious why that is the correct way to handle it. It is important to understand the differences for the end consumer between streaming and radio:

Streaming means: free choice of

  • what
  • where
  • when
  • how
  • on what device

to listen to

Radio means: listening to whatever someone else decides at any given moment in other words, no real control and freedom of what to listen to.

From this I think it should be abundantly clear, that the end consumer is getting a way better experience with streaming than with any other form of consumption. Which is obviously the reason why many people choose to consume music in this fashion. And rightfully so!

But there is absolutely _nothing_ wrong with songwriters asking for a better compensation for this sort of service to the end consumer. It’s a great service and great experience and it is worth something. To suggest that we cannot or should not make our voices heard in this power network is a specious argument that denies us free speech and access on a level playing field to a marketplace. That’s just wrong.

And like Aloe Blacc says: songwriters get nothing from the fees that streaming services pay to labels, because that’s not how the licensing is set up. Songwriters license their works (the composition/lyrics) directly (to the labels, to the stations, to the streaming services etc) while the labels license their product (the particular recording) to the streaming service.

Aloe Blacc: Streaming Services Need to Pay Songwriters Fairly | WIRED.

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