Martin Bandier, chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV, has added his voice to the criticism of rates paid to music publishers for streaming. Several songs and artists from the Sony/ATV umbrella were recently nominated for Grammy Awards, and Bandier used that occasion to share some of their streaming figures.
He said that 55 million streams of John Legend’s “All of Me” on Pandora over three months generated $3,400 in royalties for the publisher and songwriter. Pharrell Williams’ track “Happy” had 43 million Pandora plays in the same period and received publisher and songwriter royalties of $2,700. Bandier said the rates from interactive services were “equally dissatisfying” to those paid by Pandora.
In citing these numbers, Bandier is not indicting the streaming model as much as the disparity between label royalties and publisher royalties. That was a sore point in this summer’s congressional hearings on music licensing. Pandora pays over half of all SoundExchange royalty collections on behalf of artists and labels whose recordings are used in non-interactive Internet radio.
“We at Sony/ATV want these digital music services to be successful because they are a great way for music fans to listen to music and have the potential to generate significant new revenues for everyone,” he said. “However, this success should not come at the expense of songwriters whose songs are essential for these services to exist and thrive.”
Sony/ATV has been active in attempting to extricate itself and its songwriters from the current practices for negotiating royalty rates. A few months after ASCAP was unable to secure increased royalty rates from Pandora through a court case, Bandier went on record saying that he’d consider leaving both ASCAP and BMI in order to let Sony negotiate directly with streaming services and other parties.