Although we may forget because we’re laughing so hard, comedians, like songwriters, create content to entertain us. However, there is a distinction: songwriters receive royalties for their written work, whereas comedians do not. Comedians are trying to change that in the age of streaming, especially given the popularity of their content on digital platforms. However, they’ve suddenly hit a “Spotify” roadblock.
The Wall Street Journal claimed on Saturday that Spotify has taken down the work of hundreds of comedians, including prominent names like John Mulaney, Jim Gaffigan, and Kevin Hart. Spoken Giants, a global rights company, represents Mulaney, Gaffigan, Hart, and other comedians in their quest to obtain radio and digital platforms like Spotify, SiriusXM, Pandora, and YouTube to pay comedians royalty payments on the copyright for their written work. The streaming giant had been in talks with Spoken Giants but couldn’t come to an arrangement, according to the outlet. Spotify alerted Spoken Giants on Thanksgiving that it would suspend all work by comedians represented by the association until they could reach an agreement.
In a statement to Gizmodo, Spoken Giants CEO Jim King, a former executive of music rights giant BMI, said the company had a “clear mechanism” for working with digital service providers, digital platforms, and radio to discuss remuneration for comedy authors. Rather than continuing conversations, Spotify, he said, erased the work of specific comedians. “Songwriter royalties are a very basic revenue stream in music,” King explained, “so this is not a foreign concept, and our work is based on existing precedents and unambiguous copyright text.” “With this removal, individual comedians are suddenly being penalised for asking the same income as songwriters.” Spoken Giants contacted Spotify after its members’ work was pulled, but received no answer, according to King. He went on to say that the corporation had requested a meeting with Spotify right away to settle the matter.
If the campaign to compensate comic writers for their work seemed to have arisen out of nowhere, it’s because there wasn’t much money to collect for a long time. Comedy was not commonly broadcast on traditional media such as radio. That has altered with the introduction of digital platforms. According to Spoken Giants, humour is now being aired “a lot” on these channels. A Spoken Giants spokeswoman told Gizmodo that the company is disputing the rights of multiple licensors after pointing out that Spotify paid a “substantial amount” of money for the content it removed. Currently, comedians are compensated as performers by their label or distributor. SoundExchange also pays them digital performance royalties when their work is played on a digital platform.
“Spotify has paid considerable sums of money for the content in question and would love to do so in the future,” a Spotify spokeswoman stated. “However, given Spoken Giants’ dispute over which licensors have what rights, it’s critical that the labels that distribute this content, Spotify, and Spoken Giants work together to settle this issue so that this content stays available to fans all around the world.”
According to the Journal, a major concern is where the royalty payments that Spoken Giants and other rights organisations are demanding will come from. According to the Journal, a major concern is where the royalty payments that Spoken Giants and other rights organisations are demanding will come from. Spotify thought it had covered all the royalties that needed to be paid out when it signed deals with comedians’ labels and distributors. Spoken Giants now claims that it must pay a royalty on the writing. There appear to be two options: Spotify could compensate comedy writers with a portion of the money it pays labels and distributors, or it could pay royalties on written content without hurting the other payments.