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Ivors Academy calls on labels to #PaySongwriters

By | Published on Wednesday 24 March 2021

Ivors Academy

MNEK, Amy Wadge, Ross Golan, Jess Glynne, Giorgio Moroder, Dan Bastille and Andrew Lloyd Webber are among various artists and songwriters lending their support to new Ivors Academy campaign #PaySongwriters. It calls on record labels to better compensate songwriters for their work.

In an open letter, co-signed by 300 songwriters as well as US trade groups Songwriters Of North America and The 100 Percenters, the Ivors Academy calls on labels to make two changes to how songwriters are paid.

First, it asks that labels introduce a minimum and non-recoupable daily allowance of £75 or $120 to cover expenses while they work with recording artists. Secondly, it calls for non-performing songwriters to receive four points from the label share on master recordings of any songs they compose.

Coinciding with the publication of the latest global recording industry figures from the IFPI, the letter says: “We can see that the record industry has experienced a huge upturn in revenues whilst songwriter profits have collapsed”.

“In the past, songwriters have reaped great rewards for their work, and indeed many learnt their trade when this was still the norm”, it says. “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”.

Commenting alongside the letter, artist and songwriter MNEK says: “There are no songs without songwriters, lyricists and wordsmiths. To award ceremonies to the digital platforms even down to the conception of the song, the people behind the lyrics and melody are made to seem secondary. Pay songwriters for our minds and our time”.

Songwriter Amy Wadge comments: “It takes a village to launch a successful artist and songwriters are an essential part of the village, and yet they are still at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to income. It’s time for a proper conversation and for a new precedent to be set, but it has to be supported by labels and artists too. Songwriters need to be heard for what they are saying as well as what they are writing”.

Meanwhile, the letter’s lead signatory, Chair of The Ivors Academy’s Songwriter Committee Helienne Lindvall, adds: “We know we have to fix streaming so it’s fair, transparent and sustains the careers of the people that create the music we love. Structural reform is needed now more than ever, but in the meantime there are a few quick and easy measures which could help songwriters get by until such time as reform is achieved. While labels enjoy record revenues from streaming, songwriters are struggling to pay the rent. The #PaySongwriters campaign provides simple ways for the labels to support songwriters when it’s needed most”.

“We commend [UK indie record company] The Other Songs and the other labels who have joined them already in paying points to non-performing songwriters, showing that this is a fair way to reward the huge contribution songwriters make to the health of the music industry”, she goes on. “As a community of music creators, we call on all labels to support our campaign to #PaySongwriters”.

You can read the full letter and add your own signature here.