Leaders in the Nashville music industry, from songwriters to labels to commercial radio, couldn't agree this week on how to fix the problems with reimbursing artists for music — or even what the problems are.
Nearly two dozen sat down with members of the House Judiciary Committee to talk about the complex and occasionally tense topic of copyright law, which the committee has been reviewing for the past two years. It's planning to meet with more Nashville industry leaders in the coming months.
Some told congressional leaders that the problem in copyright is that there’s not enough transparency about who’s getting paid. Others said transparency was less of an issue than the low royalty rates for songwriters and performers.
The strongest words came from songwriters about tech companies like Spotify and Pandora. Kevin Kadish, who co-wrote "All About That Bass" last year with Meghan Trainor, said his song was streamed online 178 million times, but those platforms paid him less than $6,000 dollars in royalties.
“That’s as big a song as a songwriter can have in their career," Kadish said. "No. 1 in 78 countries but you’re making $5,600. How do you feed your family?”
That sparked a discussion over whether radio plays — which pay songwriters better — are more valuable than online plays because more people hear each one.
Still, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says many streaming platforms aren’t making a profit either. He calls the whole business model flawed.
“One of our challenges is, have they figured out how to be profitable delivering this service? Or is the consumer getting a value that ultimately the consumer maybe shouldn’t get?”
His suggestion that music listeners should pay more got a rare nod of approval from many at the table.