Music News

Nile Rodgers calls out Spotify on songwriter treatment

Nile Rodgers is one of the coolest people imaginable.

It’s that endless style, the carefree stature and the killer playing, always in a groove, never looking for the next one because he’s always ahead of the curve.

So when he speaks out in something less than happiness and positivity, it’s best to pay attention.

Rodgers is one of the dozens of songwriters fighting back against Spotify’s decision to appeal a federal move that would require streaming services to increase royalties paid per stream to musicians; it would go up 44% over the next three years. Spotify has tried to explain away its opposition, saying it’s not uninterested or unable to pay musicians more, it just wants to take more time to consider what’s best for everyone.

(BS, by the way. Without songwriters and musicians, there’s no music. PAY THEM. Ahem.)

Rodgers is also the chair of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, speaking on behalf not only of people whose inclusion distinguishes them as among the best of the best, but all those musicians who aren’t included and those who one day will join their ranks.

In a letter sent earlier this week, songwriters essentially called out Spotify and its CEO for mistreating and using them, turning profits and helping streaming become the largest portion of the music industry during its return to profitability while denying them their hard-earned pay.

“I think it’s intelligently presented and the message very simple. Spotify, Amazon, et al: do not bite the hand that brings you your subscribers,” Rodgers told NPR of the letter.

He also credits the intelligence of Spotify CEO Daniel Ek (along with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos) for understanding that people don’t care necessarily about the technology, they care about the ease with which they can access their favourite performers.

“If great artists and songs start to disappear from these services, the money will then evaporate and go to whomever can deliver them,” Rodgers said. “I suspect Spotify and Amazon now realize they have handled this badly, and I hope for a swift resolution that has no impact on their growth.”

This is by no means a problem only in the United States or even North America, of course.

“In the U.K., we have created a £350 million publicly listed fund – the Hipgnosis Songs Fund – that has demonstrated to the financial community that hit songs are as investable financial instruments as gold or oil,” he said. “Our ultimate aim is to use the leverage of that fund to place the songwriter at the top, rather than the bottom, of the economic equation. Songs are the currency of the music industry and these creators should be acknowledged and rewarded.”

In the meantime, Ek says more than 30,000 artists are making a living JUST on Spotify stream payments alone… at the whopping salary of $0.00437 per stream. Who wants to do the math?

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

Amber Healy has 521 posts and counting. See all posts by Amber Healy

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