Spotify Finally Giving Songwriters the Credit They Deserve

Feb 02, 2018

Spotify Adds Songwriter Credits To Desktop Platform - And They’re Coming To Mobile (Music Business Worldwide)

The first month of 2018 is setting a very positive and encouraging tone for songwriters and music publishers.

Just a week after the Copyright Royalty Board increased on-demand streaming mechanical royalties, Spotify announced it will add songwriter and producer credits to its streaming platform.

Users will be able to click on a track’s drop down menu of options, (such as “Add to Playlist," “Go to Artist," “Save to Your Library," etc.) and select “Show Credits.” The user will then be able to see the available songwriter and producer information for that song.

This is long-overdue good news for the songwriting community. The talented people behind the music we love will now be more visible than ever to the public and get the recognition they deserve.

Of course, the data is provided to Spotify by the record labels, which is usually incomplete and erroneous. Nevertheless, it’s a major step toward more songwriter equity in the digital streaming market. As Spotify is quoted in the article:

“We realize some of the label-provided credits are incomplete or may contain inaccuracies, but this is just the first step in displaying songwriter credits on Spotify.”

This has several important impacts:

1. It allows fans to discover new music they might not otherwise have known about. If you were to find other songs by the same writer (but recorded/performed by different artists), a fan may find themselves following the writer, as well as (or instead of) the artist. An example would be like discovering different TV shows or movies based on the screenwriter (à la Aaron Sorkin), instead of the actors.

2. It gets songwriters' names out there which can pave the way to becoming star performers themselves one day.  Many of today’s most famous and successful performing artists got their start in the industry as behind-the-scenes songwriters (see for instance Bruno Mars, who just swept the main Grammy categories this past weekend).

3. It elevates the whole notion, craft, and artistry of songwriting. Highlighting the fact that many songs are written by a team, and not just the headlining performer, gives fans a new perspective into the artistry of making good music. Elevating the craft of songwriting shows the public how important and essential it is to the music we love.

All of this adds up to public awareness of the songwriter’s vital role and in turn, gives context and weight to the songwriter arguments for better compensation in the marketplace. If 70% of songwriter income is in some way regulated by a government entity, it only stands to reason those entities, along with the public, know more about how pervasive and valuable songwriting is.

The real challenge is in the “metadata”--the embedded song information in the digital file. Though some songwriter’s will have “credit” listed on Spotify, this doesn’t necessarily equate to getting all the royalties they are due. For various reasons, which are usually related to sloppy record keeping and royalty registrations, songwriters are still missing out on income even if they show up on Spotify. As MBW says:

Unfortunately, the news doesn’t mean Spotify has solved well-known industry metadata issues around digital rights – but then again, it’s not claiming to have done so.

Spotify is taking a positive step to improve its image in the songwriter community and it will be fun to see how this can change new music discovery.

And now for this week’s other headlines:

Benom Plumb, Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver, reviews the biggest stories of the week affecting music royalties. He is a music industry professional, not an attorney. For more info about Benom, visit his website at www.professorplumbmusic.com.