Country Songwriters Revolt Against Spotify and Amazon

Hit makers are speaking out about a controversy which impacts all of your favorite country tunes.

Written by Chris Parton
Country Songwriters Revolt Against Spotify and Amazon
KRAKOW, POLAND - 2019/02/10: Spotify logo is seen on an android mobile phone. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Some of country’s biggest hitmakers are outraged and taking a stand against Spotify and Amazon Music. Songwriters like Ross Copperman, busbee, Chris Destefano and more are speaking out about a controversy which impacts all of your favorite country tunes.

The fight surrounds the newly approved Music Modernization Act, a bill which was signed into law in October of 2018. Because the pervious law was written long before digital technology existed, it sought to increase payments to songwriters from digital streaming services like Spotify and Amazon.

Fees were set to rise from a paltry .003 cents per play to the still-tiny rate of .004 cents per play – but that was apparently too much for Spotify and Amazon. Last week the tech giants (along with Pandora and Google, but notably without Apple music) filed an appeal to prevent the rate hike, a move the National Music Publishers Association says is effectively like “suing songwriters.”

As you can imagine, the songwriters are not happy. It’s a years-long fight which most assumed they had already won. And now they’re asking fans to help out by canceling subscriptions to Spotify and Amazon.

Busbee, the producer and writer behind hits by Maren Morris (“My Church,” “’80s Mercedes”), Keith Urban (“The Fighter”) and more, summed up the feelings of many of his colleagues. Posting on Instagram, he wrote simply “This is maddening. It’s time to battle again, sadly. Here we go.”


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This is maddening. It’s time to battle again, sadly. Here we go. #Repost @nmpaorg with @repostsaveapp · · · Via @variety- “When the Music Modernization Act became law, there was hope it signaled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters,” Israelite said in a statement. “That hope was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third. ⁣ ⁣ No amount of insincere and hollow public relations gestures such as throwing parties or buying billboards of congratulations or naming songwriters ‘geniuses’ can hide the fact that these big tech bullies do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible.”⁣ ⁣ – NMPA President & CEO David Israelite

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Likewise, Chris DeStefano – the Grammy winner whose credits include Carrie Underwood’s “Smoke Break,” Luke Bryan’s “Kick the Dust Up” and more – expressed his disbelief at the move. “I’m beyond disappointed in Amazon and Spotify for continuing their efforts in destroying the record business and the career of songwriting,” he wrote. “Just making music more easily accessible does NOT mean it will be sustainable. They have destroyed our mechanical royalties and record sales. This will not stand. We must fight with everything and all resources possible.”

Tunesmiths from every genre have joined in the call, hoping to pressure the streaming services into withdrawing their appeal. But in the meantime, country songwriter/producer Ross Copperman (Dierks Bentley’s “Woman, Amen,” Kenny Chesney’s “Get Along” and more) may have best captured the mood of many in Nashville. All he had to say about the situation was “Bye.”


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