German collection society posts increased streaming revenue, but critiques royalty rates

German flag canvasGEMA, a German collection society, announced that its 2014 global revenue was €893.6 million euros (about $950 million). That figure marked a 4.8% increase over the year prior. Streaming revenue accounted for €44.8 million, up from €26.4 million in 2013, but GEMA came out with a strong statement against the current royalty split between rights holders, songwriters, and publishers.

“The massive imbalance between the payouts which Spotify and its peers issue to labels on the one hand, and to authors and publishers on the other, is horrific,” Rolf Budde, president of the German Music Publishers Association (DMV) and member of the GEMA advisory board, told Billboard. “Considering that, following a slump in CD sales, the download market, which has so far been relatively stable, is now also sagging, it is even more important for this disparity to be addressed.”

CD sales did still hold three-quarters of Germany’s music sales last year, although streaming’s popularity is on the rise. Similar concerns about the portion of royalty payments paid to songwriters have also been raised in the U.S., in the UK, and in Sweden. The U.S. government is currently considering legislation that would change royalty calculations and increase the portion available for songwriters and publishers.

Anna Washenko