Blackburn, Lieu Lead Bipartisan Letter to U.S. Copyright Office Over Spotify’s Actions Slashing Songwriter Royalties

June 27, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the U.S. Copyright Office expressing concerns over Spotify’s new bundle plans and whether they are in accordance with the Music Modernization Act, a law passed by Congress to protect publishers and songwriters.

In the letter, the Members address Spotify’s recent actions to re-designate its streaming music service as a “bundle,” leading to a sharp cut in royalty payments made to publishers and songwriters. The Members are urging the U.S. Copyright Office to investigate whether these actions are in step with the Music Modernization Act and whether there are protections in place to ensure that companies cannot abuse the law’s royalty rate process to the detriment of copyright owners.

American songwriters create the music we love but have long labored under a compulsory licensing system that robs them of control over their work and the ability to receive fair compensation,” wrote the Members. Six years ago, Congress passed the Music Modernization Act (MMA) to address that problem. It was a landmark compromise that benefited streaming platforms by modernizing music licensing while reducing legal liability for digital streaming companies, while at the same time ensuring publishers and songwriters were compensated more fairly. We believe it is essential, then, that Congress raise serious questions regarding whether Spotify’s recent actions are in step with the spirit of the Music Modernization Act. 

As members of the Judiciary Committee, which originated the Music Modernization Act, we want to see the law faithfully implemented and copyright owners protected from harm arising from bad faith exploitation of the compulsory system,” continued the Members. “Digital service providers should not be permitted to manipulate statutory rates to slash royalties, deeply undercutting copyright protections for songwriters and publishers. A fair system should prevent any big tech company from setting their own price for someone else’s intellectual property, whether the owner wants to sell or not.

The full text of the letter is here.