US dollars money

One of 2022’s genuine bright spots for the streaming economy was the announcement in late August that the bodies representing streaming services and publishers had agreed a new headline rate for streaming mechanical royalties in the US.

It cut short what had been anticipated as a lengthy and divisive period of lobbying for those rates to be set by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) in its ‘Phonorecords IV’ process. The new headline rate of 15.35% will be phased in over the five-year term of 2023-27.

This wasn’t necessarily the end of the story: even though the two sides had reached an agreement, the CRB was not obliged to accept it. However, its approval was always likely, and that came to pass at the end of December with its final determination of the rates.

Peace on streaming earth and goodwill to all musicians! Although if you’re craving some spice, the CRB’s final ruling does include some of the comments in opposition to the agreed settlement.

Eric Goldberg and Jeff Price of Word Collections called for a higher rate to give songwriters parity with labels and to keep up with the cost of living, with Price also training his sights on publishing body the NMPA, claiming that its interests (in the CRB’s paraphrasing) “are not aligned with 98% of music publishers”.

A cost of living adjustment is also what was called for in a submission by songwriters and activists Helienne Lindvall, David Lowery and Blake Morgan, who also questioned how podcasts and other spoken-word recordings will be factored in to the royalty calculations.

These and other concerns are set out in the CRB’s final determination, but the new rates are approved. Those involved in the settlement – principally DiMA (representing DSPs) and the NMPA (publishers) – said in August that it would be a base for rancour-free collaboration going forward.

Together with the up-and-running Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) this is certainly a new, hopefully-brighter era for the US streaming economy. Rapprochement between DSPs and the NMPA is an important base for that.

However, the work of those activists pressing for more transparency, rooting out inequities and probing for unintended consequences of these new agreements and bodies is just as vital a part of this new era too.

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you build the strategies for artists to thrive in new international markets!

Music Ally's Head of Insight

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *