Hundreds of members of the international music industry have signed an open letter to record labels titled “Pay Songwriters,” calling for better financial treatment from the record labels that are riding a tide of streaming-powered success. That success is evidenced by the strong numbers in the IFPI annual global report on recorded music released today, which showed that despite the pandemic, which has deeply impacted physical music sales,  global recorded music revenues rose 7.4% in 2020 to $21.6 billion, only slightly below 2019’s 8.2% — with streaming revenue up nearly 20% year-on-year to $13.4 billion..

It has been signed by dozens of songwriters, producers and executives, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Giorgio Moroder, Stargate, MNEK, Ross Golan, Rick Nowels, Natalie Hemby, Savan Kotchecha and many more.

For more information and to sign the letter, head to https://www.paysongwriters.com/.

The letter, issued by the U.K.-based Ivors Academy of Music Creators, is billed “An Open Letter to Record Labels,” and begins with the synopsis: “We need a sustainable model of compensation for music writers that reduces the risk of writers quitting the business or taking on second jobs due to the increasing costs of operating.”

It begins: “We all know how much songwriters are relied upon, not only for songs but for inspiration, direction and development within the contemporary music industry. Emerging artists are often put into the hands of songwriters first. Even when many hours of a writer’s work do not ‘make the record,’ it provides necessary comparison for A&R decision-making. These creators undertake a huge personal and professional investment in every artist who walks through their doors.

“However, many now find themselves in a deeply unenviable position. In the past, songwriters have reaped great rewards for their work, and indeed many learnt their trade when this was still the norm. Sadly no longer: 100,000 streams of a song will not cover the price of a cup of coffee. A songwriter could have many millions of streams and still be incapable of making rent in the cities where their work is done. Songwriters of the past risked their investment because there was a chance of returns if a song was used or indeed a hit. Without the possibility of those returns where is the incentive? This question should cause us to reflect.

“We can see that the record industry has experienced a huge upturn in revenues whilst songwriter profits have collapsed. There is a sincere danger that we may lose a whole class of writers before people truly comprehend the situation and the model is fixed. We need a sustainable model of compensation for music writers that reduces the risk of writers quitting the business or taking on second jobs due to the increasing costs of operating.

“The Ivors Academy of Music Creators represents the very best in songwriting and composition. We want to prevent a downward trend in the quality of songwriting from music creators being underpaid.

“The Ivors Academy is not a union. We are not able to place demands upon anyone who employs our members, but we have a rich overview of the state of play – we can see how catastrophic circumstances are becoming and we believe there is a two-pronged remedy:

  1. Pay writers a per diem (a per day allowance).
This would not constitute owning their work in any way: it’s a simple cost-covering exercise. We’ve canvassed our membership (and their managements) and believe paying a minimum per diem of £75 / $120 to each songwriter working with your artist would be a sensible and structure-preserving measure. This per diem would be non-recoupable from the artist share.
  2. Give writers points on the master from the label share
This would enable writers to be properly rewarded when their work is used, and to participate in the rewards of the success of your artists. Again, we’ve canvassed our membership (and their managements) and we believe a minimum of four (4) points on net revenue to be shared among the non-performing songwriters on a record would be a sensible and structure-preserving measure.

“We urge you to consider and act upon this proposal as swiftly as possible. We need to recognise and support the work of songwriters to maintain a strong and healthy music industry for the future.

With Warm Regards,

Helienne Lindvall, Chair of the Songwriter Committee & Board Director,

The Ivors Academy of Music Creators