The Battle For Sustainable Streaming Royalties: Notes From The Front Lines

Okay, technically the front line is behind a laptop screen. But the battle itself is not a virtual one. It’s one that is playing out in real time on our royalty statements. Have you noticed it? (sarcasm) Two years ago, my fellow professional songwriter friends and I started feeling the “gaslight effect” — we were working harder than ever, seeing more uses of our songs in more places, and yet, their corresponding royalty statement amounts were decreasing.  Hmmm.  The steady awakening to reality — that the work-increase/royalty-decline wasn’t just in our heads, but was happening for a reason — motivated some songwriters and composers in Los Angeles (myself included) to start SONA (Songwriters of North America). Other music creator organizations already exist; wonderful, well-established community hubs and advocacy groups like the NSAI, CMC, SGA, SCL, etc. But my friends and I felt like the immediacy of the problems we faced demanded more from us. We wanted answers, action and results. First, we asked questions. Most importantly, why are songwriters and publishers forced to split the smallest piece of the streaming royalty pie? Why do we get somewhere between 1/8th and 1/12th of what the owners of the sound recordings get…

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