March 24, 2021
Dear Chairmen, CEOs, and Presidents,
In the words of Eric Levin, EVP and CFO of Warner Music Group “It is [y]our job as an industry leader to help [y]our artists and songwriters navigate the complexity across countries to maximize potential globally.” In further clarification of what this job entails Levin goes on to state, “...it is imperative that monetization continues to improve and that artists, songwriters, labels and publishers are all fully and fairly compensated for their work.” And thus, we as the songwriters, producers, engineers, and artists of the music industry call on you to do the work to fully and fairly compensate everyone and not just yourselves.
The annual Music by the Numbers report highlights the devastating year for music creators who reportedly lost 65% of their income over the course of the pandemic, with that number rising to 80% for those depending mostly on live performances or in-studio work. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, this means American musicians were forced to scrape together a living with $14,396 - $8,199 over the course of 2020. However, despite these devastating losses, you and your colleagues raked in more than $12 billion with $10 billion of that from streaming alone during the pandemic. So as songwriters, producers, and engineers lived at or below the poverty line, record labels enjoyed a nearly 10% increase. The feast while we famine must stop.
Therefore, in solidarity with Ivors Academy we along with our allies call on you as Chairmen, CEOs, and Presidents to:
Create standard provisions entitling non-performing songwriters to share in a minimum of four percent of the label’s share of master royalties.
Revise current artist agreements for Producer Royalties to no longer deduct from the artists share of the master royalties and instead deduct directly from the label’s share.
Establish budgets not subject to recoupment to cover a minimum of $120 per diem expenses incurred in the recording process for meals, lodging, and transportation.
The music industry, the world, and the times we are living in have evolved, and we are simply calling on you to evolve with it. We are calling on you to meet us in a place where we can thrive creatively in spaces where we aren’t living advance to advance and accumulating debt just to stay above water. We have come privately to the table asking for these things individually with the response of low revenues and the struggling music industry outlook. However, with the public reporting of massive profits and early 2000’s level margins, you as label heads can no longer in good conscious continue to base compensation on a system created when your companies had to cover the costs of manufacturing records and CDs. As a collective unit we are asking you to come to the table and simply do the right thing. Until this happens we will continue to speak out and against: (1) the unfair division of royalties, (2) the burden of recoupment without a say in budgets, and (3) having to feed ourselves on empty promises and dreams instead of livable wages, fair contracts, and a seat at the table.
Thus, we come in this open letter and attached petition of support publicly calling on you to dig into your pockets to redistribute the wealth in an effort to make the music industry a more equitable place for songwriters, producers, and artists as opposed to digging in your heels against those who make the heart of the industry beat.
We look forward to working with you as we all recover, rebuild, and evolve with the times.
Founder & Executive Director of, The 100 Percenters
Hear from a few of our supporters...
I just read that global recorded music revenues grew 7.4% to $21.6BN in 2020 in, music business worldwide. Stop playing with us. Y’all have the budget. Come up off that lions share. Y’all are being greedy.
I’m a songwriter as well as a recording artist. The work done by songwriters is irreplaceable and songwriters deserve to make a living wage. So many hours are given for free or exposure. The system is not set up to support us and this must change.
Artist need to do a better job of celebrating the songwriters and producers who help them be great and help them shine. We are not workers! We are not secrets! We contribute the same amount of energy and effort If not more to make these songs what they are so we deserve just as much!
Run me my money like we runnin’ these songs.
- Sonyae Blu
Songwriter’s payment should not be treated differently than the Executive’s. Who’s really doing the work?
- Mickey Shiloh
It’s the right thing to do!!!