Songwriters, for so long the unsung heroes, the forgotten geniuses behind the soundtrack to your life, should get the money and the glory. And that’ll happen, if the world’s most powerful music publisher Martin Bandier gets his way.
Bandier, the colourful chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV chairman, used the platform of the National Music Publishers’ Association Centennial Annual Meeting in New York earlier this week to demand streaming services give a fair share of the glory to songwriters.
“When I look today at the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, I ask: where are the names of the songwriters,” Bandier said from the podium, according to Billboard. “They are either not there or so hidden that you would have to be a special prosecutor, or perhaps The Washington Post – to find them. It is as if the songwriters do not exist and the only people who matter are the recording artists. However, without the songwriters coming up with the words and music in the first place, there would be nothing for the artist to record and no music to stream.”
With the lack of public acknowledgement that songwriters receive, he continues, “I believe it’s not surprising that they and music publishers are not given the full benefits of their work. This lack of recognition could be one of the reasons why songwriters and their publishers receive a disproportionate share of royalties from the streaming services and other music users.”
Bandier usually gets his way.
Just last year, the New Yorker engineered the US$750 million buyout of Michael Jackson’s estate share to gain 100 percent ownership of Sony/ATV, giving it sole ownership of the music publishing titan. Sony/ATV represents the industry’s largest portfolio of music publishing assets and its boss is a perennial figure inside the top 10 of Billboard’s Power 100 list.
Should streaming services follow his lead and prominently show the names of the songwriters, it’d represent a “tiny step but a hugely symbolic one that will once again put the role of the songwriter front and centre and remind everyone of the songwriter’s vital contribution to music and the industry,” added Bandier, who was presented with the NMPA’s Lifetime Service Award by Motown legend Smokey Robinson.
For all its teething problems and its revolving leadership door, Tidal does have something over its loftier rivals. Jay Z’s artist-owned service presents information on writers, producers, mixers and engineers, and a whole smorgasbord of supporting material on the behind-the-scenes magic-makers.
TIO reached out to Spotify. A rep responded by pointing to the launch last week of the “Secret Genius” programme as “our latest step in acknowledging the important contributions of songwriters.”