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Remember when Apple Music was the good guy in the controversies around the US Copyright Royalty Board’s rate-setting process for streaming mechanicals? The company did not join Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora in appealing the last set of rates, but its contribution to the next process – ‘Phonorecords IV’ – has drawn flak from the bosses of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

“In this upcoming CRB, Apple Music is capitalizing on Spotify and Amazon’s appeal which could lead to a 10.5% headline rate – a drastic cut from the 15% rate approved by the court last time around. What is even worse is that the headline rate may mean less because Apple is proposing to drastically cut what it deems “revenue” – meaning it would be 10.5% of a much smaller amount,” their bosses wrote in an op-ed for Billboard.

“Apple is also trying to eliminate an entire portion of the rate structure – what is referred to as “TCC” or total content cost. This is the safety net which mandates a certain percentage of the total amount paid to record labels must go to songwriters and publishers. To further cut royalties, Apple is seeking to expand family discount plans and expand its free trial period.”

The piece also criticises Spotify and Amazon’s filings, portraying the rate-setting process as a “David versus Goliath courtroom scenario”. It continues: “We should be working together, instead of arguing across a courtroom, but that cannot happen until these services value songwriters in earnest, and not just in hollow rhetoric.”

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