Copyright Royalty Board

What You Need to Know: The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) issues determinations on how digital service providers pay out royalties to songwriters, labels, musicians, etc. CRB judges rule on the headline rate of the mechanical rate formula, which is a phased-in incremental increase over a 5 year period. 

In 2019, Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon filed an appeal of the rates governing 2018-2022, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to examine whether the CRB made legal errors while adopting the rate structure. That appeal is ongoing.

The CRB is currently preparing to rule on rates for 2023-2027 and has solicited comments from interested parties. Recently, DSPslike Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon filed documents with the CRB that would not lower these rates, but lower them to historic lows. Public reports state that the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which advocates opposite the DSPs before the CRB, is calling for moderate increases in the rate over the five-year period.

MAC’s Perspective: Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon, and other DSPs have made trillions off the backs of hard-working musicians, songwriters, producers, and other industry professionals. Their appeal of the 2018-2022 rates amounts to a suit against songwriters. The CRB process was thorough and length, resulting in a considerable step towards daily compensating songwriters and recognizing their critical contribution to the modern music industry.

The DSP’s proposed rates for the 2023-2027 term make it clear that they don’t appreciate the full value that creators bring to the industry. MAC stands with NMPA, and creators everywhere, in pushing for fair and modest increases. As an advocacy organization, MAC has remained in close contact with the NMPA and other organizations focused on creator rights, and will continue to push for the CRB to rule on the side of musicians in the DSPs potentially harmful appeal of current rates and unreasonable proposal for the next term of rates.

Learn More:
Spotify, Google, Pandora, Amazon Go to U.S. Appeals Court to Overturn Royalty Increase,” Variety, March 7, 2019