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Music Creators North America welcomes increased transparency on streaming rate deal

By | Published on Monday 10 October 2022

Streaming services

The Music Creators North America organisation has welcomed the decision by the US National Music Publishers Association and Digital Media Association to release in full details of the deal they have done regarding the royalties streaming services will pay to songwriters and music publishers in the US over the next five years. However, MCNA is still calling for the full release of any related “side agreements”.

The deal done between the NMPA and the streaming services over what song royalty rates should be paid in the US was widely welcomed by the music community when it was announced back in August.

Those rates are ultimately set by the Copyright Royalty Board within the US because of a compulsory licence that exists in American copyright law. By reaching a deal on what the rates should be from 2023 to 2028, the publishers and streaming firms avoided having to battle it out before the CRB judges in what would have been costly and time consuming legal proceedings.

That deal still needs to be signed off by the CRB though, and as part of that process any affected stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on what has been agreed. However, as that process got underway, some songwriter groups – while glad a deal had been done – started to criticise the lack of transparency regarding the specifics of the full agreement that has been reached.

To that end, songwriter George Johnson filed a formal motion seeking to compel full disclosure of the deal, a move backed by MCNA. Despite initially opposing Johnson’s motion, the publishers and services have now approved the public release of their deal. A move that was welcomed by MCNA on Friday afternoon.

It said in a statement that it is “gratified that as a result of both the motions made before the US CRB by songwriter George Johnson and the letter of support and legal principles filed by MCNA, the trade associations for the music publishing and digital music … companies capitulated last evening to demands for transparency regarding the public release in full of their joint, proposed agreement for streaming royalty rates over the next five years”.

That said, critics still want to know about any side deals between the services and the publishers that were negotiated alongside the main deal that has been filed with the CRB.

As a result, MCNA said that it would “continue to push, as will Mr Johnson, for the full release of all related ‘side’ agreements that may have been executed contemporaneously or in conjunction with their proposal, and looks forward to finally getting the opportunity to reviewing and commenting on the crucial, proposed royalty deal in its entirety in the coming weeks”.