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AIMP Followup Statement on Spotify’s Bundling Plans, Cutting Publisher Royalties by Estimated $150m

The Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) — including Michael Lau (National Chair and New York Chapter President), Marc Caruso (Los Angeles Chapter President), Ree Guyer (Nashville Chapter President), and Tony D. Alexander (Atlanta Chapter President) — issued the below followup statement regarding Spotify’s music-audiobook bundle.

“Two weeks ago, we spoke out about the potential consequences for independent music publishers should Spotify go forward with its plan to bundle a previously free service, audiobooks, with music subscriptions. Now that an actual number has been put to the potential lost revenue for music publishers, a staggering estimate of $150 million per year, we feel the need to speak out again.

“It is a deeply cynical move for Spotify to attempt to circumvent the CRB settlement agreed to by the NMPA & NSAI and DiMA in 2022 via this bundling ‘loophole,’ and further insulting that the price of a Spotify subscription will actually increase for users while cutting revenue for the songwriters who keep their business alive. This is especially problematic for independent music publishers, as they and all publishers are legally prevented from negotiating protections against bad-faith tactics such as this, while labels are allowed to do so in a free market.

“At this point, we still do not know how Spotify plans to notify its subscribers of this change. The right thing to do is to default existing subscribers to music-only accounts, and then give them the option to add-on the audiobook service for an additional $9.99 per month — Spotify’s proposed standalone rate for audiobooks. This ensures a proper, non-devalued royalty rate for both music and audiobook publishers and rightsholders, who will otherwise both be negatively affected by bundling.

“The AIMP offers its unequivocal support to the NMPA as they fight this critical battle to prevent Spotify’s scheme from taking effect. We encourage all independent music publishers to join us in this stance and make their songwriters aware of this attack on their livelihood. We cannot allow bundling to become a precedent that can be used to deprive songwriters of their well-earned royalties.

“The AIMP has also been speaking with the Coalition of Concerned Creators and are happy to report that we are aligned on this issue. Please find their statement on this issue below.”

From the Coalition of Concerned Creators:
“All musicians, creator advocacy groups, unions and organizations, and other creator stakeholders — including authors and podcasters — must stand firm against Spotify’s recent policy shift. It is essential to advocate for equitable compensation for music creators, who are pivotal to the industry’s sustainability. Additionally, this is a clear pattern of behavior and we continue to be concerned about Spotify’s bridge into new audio formats, like audiobooks, and how this pattern of behavior will affect other creators, like authors, as well.”

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