Songwriters, Publishers Win a Landmark 43.8% Royalty Increase from Streaming Music Platforms — Spotify, Google, and Amazon Are Still Fighting Back 

American songwriters and publishers scored a hard-fought mechanical royalty rate increase from streaming music platforms in a late-breaking decision on Friday (July 1st). But not every concession was granted, and Spotify, Google, Amazon, and Pandora are fighting to delay retroactive payments. 

Earlier this week, Digital Music News first reported on rumblings of a royalty rate increase for streaming music platforms. Now, it’s official: according to details disseminated by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) late on Friday, July 1st, streaming music platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited will be forced to pay substantially more to music publishers and songwriters in the United States. Specifically, the determination covers the 2018-2022 period — covered by the ‘Phonorecords III’ proceeding — and involves a 43.8% increase in pre-2018 mechanical royalty rate requirements. 

The ruling moves the mechanical royalty rate owed by streaming music services to 15.1%, up from 10.5% previously for the four-year period (and theoretically beyond, though rates after 2023 are subject to separate negotiations and rulings). The 2018-2022 ruling was first issued in 2018 by the Copyright Royalty Board. However, streaming giants Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube (via Google), and Pandora (owned by Sirius XM Holdings) fought to maintain the 10.5% rate (Apple notably did not protest the increase). 

The ruling means that streaming platforms will be forced to increase their mechanical royalty payments in the future, while also retroactively paying increased royalty amounts starting in 2018. 

That amounts to a significant tranche of cash, and explains why streaming services are fighting to have those payment obligations delayed. 

It’s unclear if those requests have been granted or are under consideration, though National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president David Israelite noted that back payments would be pursued immediately. 

“This process was protracted and expensive, and though we are relieved with the outcome, years of litigation to uphold a rate increase we spent years fighting for is a broken system,” Israelite stated to Digital Music News. “Now, songwriters and music publishers finally can be made whole and receive the rightful royalty rates from streaming services that they should’ve been paid years ago. We will work to ensure that the services quickly backpay copyright owners as they are required by law.” 

Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) president Bart Herbison noted that retroactive payment due dates remain uncertain. “The retroactive increase for American songwriters is supposed to be paid within six months of the verdict being finalized, but the streaming giants have asked for that time period to be extended, which we strongly oppose,” Herbison relayed. 

“Until the U.S. Copyright Office makes that determination, it is still unknown when songwriters will receive their payments. It is unbelievable that these tech companies who pay a myriad of rates across the globe have not figured this out when they realized four-and-a-half years ago they would have to.” 

Regardless of the delayed-payment determination, the increase is a substantial blow to streaming music platforms, a group that pays a hefty percentage of revenues back to rights owners. 

That includes publishers and songwriters, though recording labels command the lion’s share of royalties on streaming. The reasons for the imbalance are complex and largely rooted in heavy government regulation of publishing royalties. 

Just recently, Israelite revealed that labels soaked up 58.6 percent of streaming royalty revenues in 2021. That figure leaves a smaller sliver for underlying compositions (i.e., publishing IP). 

“We now have, for the first time, a treasure trove of information that has never before been made public until now,” Israelite told attendees at an NMPA annual get-together in New York in June. “There are 47 different music services that operate 151 different models that pay mechanical royalties to songwriters. We now know that in 2021, those services combined generated nearly $9.8 billion in revenue, which is just one of the important factors by which songwriters get paid.” 

“The vast majority of those royalties, over 96 percent, come from the same five companies that are fighting to cut songwriter rates in the CRB process: Amazon, Spotify, Apple, Google, and Pandora. We also now know that those services paid record labels $5.7 billion in 2021, 58.6 percent of the revenue pool – significantly higher than the 52 percent that is often reported,” stated Israelite. 

It’s unclear why Israelite stated that Apple was fighting to reduce mechanical royalty rates. That may have been an error — Apple has not contested the CRB’s 2018 ruling. 

Update, July 5th: David Israelite subsequently clarified that his statement regarding Apple Music was not made in error. While Apple did not join the Phonorecords III appeal, Israelite noted that Apple still stood to benefit from the actions of appellants Spotify, Amazon, and others — and hasn’t voluntarily created direct payments above the CRB requirements. “Apple did not join the appeal, although they will get the same benefit as those who did appeal since Apple is no longer doing direct deals above the statutory rate and thus will pay the same statutory rate as all the others,” Israelite told Digital Music News. 

Israelite further reaffirmed that Apple is ‘fighting’ music publishers by pointing to current-term, Photorecords IV proceedings. “The comment about them trying to cut the rate refers to Apple’s proposal in CRB 4 where they are asking for big cuts in what the rate is today,” the NMPA chief continued. “To be fair, Apple’s proposal in CRB 4 is not as bad as Spotify and Amazon’s proposals. But they are still seeking cuts.” 

Adding to the complexity is an ownership structure in which vast publishing rights are controlled by major music label conglomerates (principally Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group). 

Universal Music Group, for example, is not only a recording label, but also the umbrella organization over Universal Music Publishing Group, which controls massive amounts of compositional rights. 

That point hasn’t been lost on streaming music platforms. Immediately following the decision, the Digital Media Association, DiMA, which represents the streaming music platforms, raised the issue of major label payment imbalances. 

“Today’s decision comes as the three major label groups – which operate the world’s three largest music publishers – continue to earn the lion’s share of the industry profits while reporting consistent double-digit revenue growth as a result of streaming,” DiMA president and CEO Garrett Levin relayed in a statement. 

“Looking ahead, streaming services believe it’s time for all stakeholders — labels, publishers, writers, artists, and the services — to engage in comprehensive discussions to figure out the right royalty-sharing balance going forward.” 

Streaming music platforms didn’t lose on every point, however. 

Aside from the mechanical rate increase, the Copyright Royalty Board reverted specific bundled-tier definitions to pre-2018 determinations. Specifically, “Total Content Cost (TCC)” and certain bundle definitions were maintained at terms outlined in pre-2018 Phonorecords II agreements. 

In light of that defeat, Herbison qualified the broader Phonorecords III proceeding as ‘mixed.’ “This verdict represents mixed news,” Herbison said. “The good news is songwriters received the 15.1% headline rate we won four-and-a-half years ago. The bad news is that the definition of ‘bundled services’ and of total content costs, one of the streaming rate tiers, were not what we wished. We will return our focus to the next CRB proceeding which is already underway. Along with the National Music Publisher’s Association (NMPA), we are asking for further increases going forward.” 

Herbison was also downbeat on the broader impact of a rate battle that dragged on for more than four years. 

“More and more songwriters continue to leave the business,” Herbison said. “Some may have been able to hold on had the streaming companies not appealed. 

“We do not want to see anyone else leave because arrearage payments cannot get to them in time. A few thousand dollars might make that kind of difference to a writer.” 

Jazzman Music Marketing & Promotions Worldwide


We've been hearing rumblings all over about metadata and how you need to have it in the right place so you can collect #musicroyalties and really maximize your revenue stream in today's music industry. 

Q - What exactly IS MetaData anyway? 

MetaData quite simply is YOU! 

Or more equivalently your Digital Footprint because it goes wherever your music goes! Whether it's a stream, physical media sale or even an #NFT, your Digital Footprint is THE unique identifier of you as the rightsholder for the song, beat or music cue. 

Your music is going to go wherever it goes based on whoever vibes with what you've created. Your Digital Footprint is the thing which makes the difference between YOUR song making an impact and some nice song you hear but don't know who it is. 

Q - Well, if it's SO important, why don't more musicians know about it or make sure it's together for each of their songs? 

Because it's the digital equivalent of PAPERWORK, which is of course not very sexy or cool. But it is THE defining thing to help musicians in the digital music business generate revenue from their music to fund front end activities such as create new music, tour and buy new gear. 

Q - Ok, so how do I get my MetaData together and start making this happen for my music as well? 

Just right quick, I want to say thanks for checking out what I'm talking about here! I'm Darrell "D-Funk" Looney, funk/jazz violinist and EntreMusician. Some good news to share about all of this is that it's free to get your MetaData submitted for your songs and start creating your Digital Footprint. A little time and dedication to the details and you're good! 

Grab the information to get started here at: 

This resource will get you up and going with all of this! 

Talk soon! 

Darrell "D-Funk" Looney 

Keith Gilchrist aka The Jazzman 

Jazzman Music Marketing & Promotions Worldwide

Bringing the world closer together with insight and vision, by promoting jazz on a worldwide scale.

Jazzman Music Marketing & Promotion promotes on a worldwide scale with events, concerts, artist, venues, music, products, consult services for those with small to medium budgets to social media


"How to prepare for a radio interview" 

Radio interviews are an exciting opportunity to have your voice be heard and to help your company be noticed. A radio interview can be a daunting experience if you are not adequately prepared. Take advantage of the opportunity and succeed in your interview by considering these tips. 

Know your medium 

The nature of a radio interview delivers a one-on-one experience for the listener. To connect with your audience, you must to talk to, not at them. 

Radio programs have different tones, whether casual and conversational, or more structured and formal. Knowing the tone of the program and tailoring your message accordingly will help you to connect with listeners. 

Know your message 

Having a clear and concise message is the key to a successful radio interview as it is more likely to be memorable in the mind of the listener. 

It is important to present information in a succinct manner to get your point across. Long-winded answers will confuse your message and your listeners lose interest. This will also make it difficult for the interviewer in maintaining audience engagement with stimulating prompts follow up questions. Ultimately, your message must be delivered clearly, and in a way that resonates with the audience. For tips on how to create key messages go here. 

Don’t oversell 

Although you will have a particular purpose for your interview, whether to sell a book or to promote your website, it is important to not oversell yourself or your business. The audience is not interested in hearing a sales pitch, and your interviewer will not be interested in facilitating it. Instead of continually plugging your cause, subtly weave your call-to-action into your answers. This will also help to ensure that your answers are deliberate and purposeful. 

Quick tips for a radio interview 

1. Headphones: Hearing the host’s voice and your own through headphones during the interview can be very distracting. 

2. Remember to relax, as this will help you focus. 

3. Visual gestures: Smile and use hand gestures during the interview. This energy will be translated into your voice and make you sound more natural. 

4. Provide bio: Send your bio and other information to your interviewer in advance. This will ensure that the host has a clear understanding of who you and your business are. 

5. Cheat sheet: Prepare a cheat sheet of keys points for your interview. This will help you to deliver your message and avoid getting side-tracked. 

6. Avoid jargon: Use simple language that your audience will understand and connect with. Jargon will only complicate your message and isolate listeners. 

Keith V Gilchrist aka The Jazzman




How do you know if you suck or not? You’re biased. So are your mom and your boyfriend. Your friends aren’t going to tell you if they hate your music. They will come to your shows to support you. To make sure your music is ready for primetime, you need some unbiased opinions. To hit the general public, you can use Tunecore’s Fan Reviews. You don’t actually have to distribute your music with Tunecore to get it reviewed. To get 100 reviews by these ‘music fans and consumers’ (people who get paid to take surveys) it’ll run you about $40. Otherwise, if you have a strong community around you, enlist some trusted ears to take a survey anonymously. You can use Surveymonkey or Google Forms and they can rank the songs in the order of their favorites, rate each on a 1-10 scale, and offer other kinds of feedback. If you're not super established, I recommend doing some kind of market research before releasing your music. It can also just help to know the order to release your singles. 


This should include all the elements below. A great song needs a great strategy. The most important thing you can do is know exactly what you have to do each day and each week leading up to your release and what to do after. Be specific and thorough. 

At the top of each week, you should already know exactly what you need to accomplish. Which photos and videos are you posting? What emails are you sending? What stories are you telling? Once you have it written out, make sure to use a system that will work for you so you execute with precision. Maybe it's the calendar on your 

phone, maybe it's post-it notes on your wall, maybe it’s a fancy project management software. Whatever it is, stick to it. This is your road map to a successful release. 


If you want to make sure you’re collecting all of your publishing royalties wherever they exist in the world, you’re going to need an admin publishing company to help you collect these (if you don’t have a publishing deal). Songtrust, Tunecore Publishing, CD Baby Publishing or Sentric are some admin publishing companies that any songwriter at any level can sign up for and get 100% of their publishing royalties collected 


In America, the most well-known Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. In Canada the sole PRO is SOCAN. In the UK it’s PRS. You must be signed up with a PRO to get your performance royalties for songs you write. Most admin 

publishing companies will register your songs with every PRO in the world (including your hometown one), so you don’t need to worry about registering each song with your local PRO as long as you register those songs with your admin publishing company. If 

you don’t have an admin publishing company (uh, see #2), then you’ll need to make sure you register every one of your songs with your PRO. 

For every stream there are two publishing royalties earned: performance and mechanical. If you only have a PRO you’re only getting about half of your publishing (songwriter) royalties. Admin publishing companies will collect ALL of your publishing revenue from around the world: mechanical and performance. 

If you’re scrappy and have a lot more time on your hands, you could register with a PRO and a Mechanical Rights Organization (MRO). In the States the only MRO is the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). They will collect your mechanical royalties - for 

ONLY US streams. They won’t help you collect mechanicals from around the world. To do that, you need a publisher (or admin publisher). If you’re located anywhere else in the world, your local MRO and PROs may be able to help you. 

I like to save myself the headache and simply work with an admin publisher to do all of this for me. That way I know that I’m 100% setup with one stop registration. 


SoundExchange is how you get paid for Pandora and SiriusXM (and all other digitalradio) plays in the US. Other countries have their own "Neighboring Rights Organizations." Find the one in your country and register for it. 


You can currently register 20 of your unreleased songs for $85 with the US Copyright office. You can do everything at Make sure you’re protected so when the future Pharell and Robin Thicke steal your song in 30 years, your kids will be able to sue for their retirement! If you don’t register the copyright, you can’t bring a suit. 


To get your songs on Spotify, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, TikTok and 100+ other DSPs (digital service providers) worldwide, you need a distribution company. There are many distribution companies out there who you can use. I keep an updated 

comparison article on many of these companies on 


If you’re interested in getting your music in TV shows, commercials, movies, video games and trailers, you’ll want to work with a sync agent. Some call these sync licensing companies. You can find a list of the top 25 sync agencies in the world in How To Make it in the New Music Business. You can also learn all about sync licensing 

in Ari’s Take Academy’s Advanced Sync Strategies course. 


Create a folder in your preferred cloud-based drive (Dropbox, Google Drive, Box) which can be shared with your team that contains: 

. Wavs of every song (including instrumentals). 

. 320kbps (metadata tagged) mp3s of every song (including instrumentals). 

. High-res album cover (at least 3000 pixels x 3000 pixels). 

. Stems (for remixes). These are isolated vocals, drums, bass, guitar tracks. 

. Hi-res promo photos (no bigger than 10mb per image) 

Merch designs 

. Press release 

. Spreadsheet of playlists, influencers and press outlets to target 

. Text doc with credits (break these down by song) 

. Short and long bios 

. All promo materials (with original files to be able to update and edit) 

. Demos 

. All videos (music video, BTS, ads, upcoming posts) 

. Text doc containing links to all shareable assets that you’ll need to reference quickly. 


You should build up a network of photographers in your city. You can never have enough high-quality photos. Every release is a new beginning. It’s a time to update andenhance your image. To rebrand if necessary. Photos give your audience the first 

impression of the music. People will judge your project based on the artwork and photography before they choose to listen to the music. So your photos should have the same vibe and energy of your release. Make sure your photographer listens to the new 

music. And make sure the photos you release alongside the new music make sense. You need to wear an outfit conducive to the new sound. Your new album needs a story. And those photos need to match the story. Put all the edited photos in your Folder of Assets. Create a separate folder for each single release with the accompanying photos for that release 


Your bio is your story. It is the single most important piece of your release—next to the music, of course. It should reveal why people should care about you. What sets you apart? Why are you unique? And more specifically, what is the album’s story? With this in mind, you can craft your bio. Many outlets will copy and paste your bio for theirneeds. Make sure you have three bios, a long one, a short one (1 or 2 paragraphs, definitely under 500 words) and an elevator pitch (this is just for you and your team when discussing the album). 

The press release is different from your bio and doesn’t need to be posted anywhere online. You will send this directly to media outlets. Your press release should include recent media coverage, the release you’re currently promoting, any notable shows and tour dates (past or future), and a snapshot of your bigger picture plan. 


If you are releasing a cover song or have samples in the track that you didn’t create, you have to clear the licenses. For cover songs, most distributors will give you guidance on how to get the mechanical license (some distros do this for you - for a fee). If you 

used a piece of recorded music in your track that you didn’t create from scratch, you have to make sure you’re legally allowed to use it. Many recording programs (DAWs) allow you to use their sounds and loops, but if you took even a split second of a piece of someone else’s recording, you need their permission. Don’t think you’ll get caught? Audio recognition software these days are incredibly powerful. Don’t risk it. 


You want to make sure to distribute your song at least 5 weeks before the release date. Once it is officially cued up for distribution, a couple days later it should be listed in your Spotify for Artists backend as an upcoming release. There is an option there to 

submit to the Spotify playlist editors. And this is how you make sure your song shows up in your followers’ Release Radar and hits other algorithmic playlists on Spotify. To have success here you need to be clear about your long tail strategy. What support have you had? What press is coming? What can people expect from you for the next 6 months to a year? How often are you releasing music? What's your show history along with upcoming shows? What are some highlights that make you stand out from the noise? Spotify wants to know that you are an artist worth supporting. Spotify asks for this stuff and they will help artists they know have their stuff together. You’re also going to want to cue up the. Canvas (8 second silent video loops) for each song (which plays when someone streams your song on Spotify mobile). Make sure to also set up 

Contributions so your fans are able to donate to you directly when they’re on your Spotify profile - you get 100% of this money 


Make a list of user generated playlists that your music would fit on. I like doing this in Google Sheets and include as much info on the playlist as possible. Chartmertric can help with this. Research who the playlist creator is and contact them when your song is released and ask to be included. Start your message with their name and a compliment about the playlist. NEVER pay the playlister for inclusion. This is against Spotify’s terms of service and will get your record removed. If a playlister asks for money, you can respectfully inform them of this policy or simply forward their email to Spotify support (which will get that playlist removed) 

When it comes to social media influencers, this is a totally different ballgame. You can contact users on TikTok and/or Instagram and ask them to use your new song in some of their videos. These don’t have to be influencers with a ton of followers. The TikTok algorithm doesn’t merely reward those with big followings. Videos from users with just a couple thousand followers regularly get millions of views - which can encourage others to use your song. Make a list of TikTokers who fit your brand and hit them up. You can pay for this - and many expect it. This, unlike Spotify, is not against TikTok’s terms. If you have a bit of a budget, you could hire a company to do this for you - but that costs tens of thousands of dollars. And it doesn’t always work. So I recommend just putting in the time and doing it yourself (with your friends). 


You need a private way to share new music with music supervisors, labels, agents,managers and blogs. Some of the most popular options to do this are Dropbox, DISCO, Google Drive and Box. Put both wavs and mp3s in there along with lyrics and any notes 

on the song. This will be the introduction of this project, so make sure who ever gets this link can understand the full picture. You only get one shot at a first impression! Get links for every song (make sure you click the Share button - don’t copy the URL 

because it will make them login) and pop these links into your text doc in the Folder of Assets. 


Send out your press release to any outlet you think would respond well to your story and your music. But make sure the email is personalized to the writer. Open the email with a compliment about a previous article they wrote. These writers are music fans who are working on their own creative medium. Compliments to their work come few and far between. You want to have pitches out at least a month in advance with regular follow ups (every 4 days or so). Boomerang is a great Gmail plug-in that can automate this. Complete with an option to only send if there is no reply so you can set it and forget it. If you have a budget for a publicist, they will do this for you. 


Every song you release should have an accompanying video. It doesn’t need to be a high priced music video, but it should have a video component. There are even inexpensive apps out there that can easily create lyric videos for you. You’re going to want videos of different length and aspect ratio for Spotify’s Canvas, Instagram Stories and other outlets you want to customize the videos for in advance. Make sure the videos fit the vibe of the song and the project. 


Bandcamp is the #1 independent music store. It is self-managed by you. You don’t need to use a distributor to get on Bandcamp. You can go to and sign up for free. You can offer “name your price” downloads (they also have a streaming library). A fan once paid me $200 for my album (set at $5 minimum). Bandcamp now offers subscriptions and a physical merch store as well. This is an easy way to encourage your fans to pay you money for your music. You ain’t going to be making much from streams, so encourage your fans to enjoy your music on Bandcamp. 


Now that you have new photos, album cover and bio, use these assets to rebrand all your social sites and website. You are bringing an entirely new package to the world. Make it shiny, sparkly and tasty. And put a bow on it! It’s a good idea to rebrand your website every couple years regardless if you have a new album or not. There are plenty of website builders that require no design or coding knowledge. They have beautiful templates to choose from and are very simple to use. I keep an updated comparison on of some of the biggest website builders 


If you don’t have a mailing list yet, start one. This is the most important fan engagement tool you have. Of course email is important, but text message marketing is becoming more widely used and increasingly a must-have. Mailchimp is great for email. 

Community is the #1 SMS marketing platform for musicians right now and enables you to build a text list and regularly engage your followers. Whereas email open rates sit at around 23%, text open rates are around 95%. 


A new release demands new merch. You can create print-on-demand merch so you don’t need to buy (or store) up front inventory. The merch company will print and ship the item directly to your fan. We keep an updated comparison of print on demand 

companies on Also make sure that your merch is linked to Spotify and your other profiles online that showcase merch. Currently, Merchbar is the only way to get your merch onto Spotify. You can signup here. 


Digital marketing is now a must for every release. Running social media ads (for around $5-10/day) is single-handedly how Lucidious went from 100 monthly listeners to 500,000 monthly listeners in 3 years. Cue up those Facebook, Instagram, YouTube ads. 

You can learn how to do this in the Ari’s Take Academy course: Streaming and Instagram Growth 


Even all these years later Wikipedia is still one of the first places people go to get a quick glance at your bio. And it’s almost always top of the list in Google search results. It validates you and helps the internet learn about you. If you don’t have a Wikipedia 

page yet, there are plenty of people and companies out there you can hire to make you one. You just need a good amount of press under your belt. If you have one already, time to get it updated. Wikipedia doesn’t like when the subject edits their own page 

(and it can’t read like a promotional bio), so either disguise your editing, or ask your network to help with this. 


Smarturl,, all have ways for you to create custom links that you can use to track clicks on whatever you’re promoting. They also enable you to create Spotify pre-save campaigns and a link tree style album landing page where the fan can choose their preferred DSP. Read a comparison of the services on Also, add a one click, landing page link, like, to your Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and other social platforms’ bio section where you want to send people to learn more about you 


AllMusic is the most inclusive credits database in existence. Discogs is a close second. Even though many of the DSPs are starting to display credits in their platform, they’re not fully inclusive of everyone yet. Your music should be registered on 

and Discogs so people can find out who played the violin on track 3 and who cowrote track 7, because most people won’t ever see your physical liner notes. To get registered on AllMusic, you go to and follow the instructions. For Discogs, you can submit the info directly through the site ( 


This gives you some legal protections, tax breaks and enables you to open a band bank account (and get paid). You should consult an attorney and accountant to make sure you set this up properly. Or if you’re on a budget, Legalzoom can help you get this set up cheaply. 

Keith V Gilchrist aka The Jazzman