By Bricolage /

Today’s pop industry cheats songwriters‘ is quite the headline for a Guardian guest column by one of the biggest songwriters of all. Björn Ulvaeus was writing as he co-launched a report with Midia Research exploring the modern songwriting economy.

“Songwriters are more important than ever – but, if you are a songwriter, the system is dysfunctional,” he wrote in the piece, zeroing in on the division of streaming royalties. “For a million subscriber streams, an independent label artist could earn more than $3,000 (£2,175), whereas the songwriter could expect to earn between $1,200 (£870) and $1,400 (£1,015) and, even then, only if they are the sole songwriter on the track. If you co-wrote the song, that money is split between you and your fellow writers. On average, songwriters therefore earn between a third and a half of what artists do. If we live in a ‘song economy’, that’s unfair: the distribution of royalties needs to change to reflect that.”

User-centric payouts (described as ‘fan-centric’ in the report); higher royalties for ‘lean-forward’ songs chosen by listeners rather than served up by algorithms or playlists; and a ‘songwriter in residence’ model at labels are among Ulvaeus’s ideas. The report is well worth a read.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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