While Taylor Swift was standing up to streaming giants like Apple Music and Spotify years ago, lesser-known songwriters in the industry were quietly fighting for the same thing – only they didn’t have millions of dollars to back up that fight or an authoritative voice in the industry, as Swift does. This is why songwriters are now staging a protest outside the former headquarters for Spotify demanding fair pay for their work.
Down on Sunset Boulevard, a group of songwriters stands outside the giant former Spotify building holding signs. They’re asking fans to honk if they support fair wages. It seems simple enough, yet the issue is much deeper.
Formed by the 100 Percenters, a group established to solicit fair pay and royalty increases from streaming services, especially Spotify, the songwriters and representatives are trying to shed some public light on their fight.
“Dear Spotify: Reallocate your billion $ marketing budget to the music creators who built you!” reads one sign from a woman named Kaydence. Per Variety, she helped to co-write Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” and Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.”
Another sign reads, “Would you work for free?” and “We write the music that you fall in love to! #Paywriters.”
Why Protesters Want to Hold Spotify Accountable
Tiffany Red knows this fight too well. She founded the 100 Percenters and has written songs for A-list artists for years.
She says, “that we’re not making a livable wage, that we have families too, and we can’t afford to pay our bills because the system, like many systems in our country, is archaic. For the last two years we’ve been campaigning about this and the industry hears us, but I want the people who are on TikTok dancing to their next song to understand that many of the people behind the songs that are trending and providing the soundtrack to everyone’s lives aren’t making money and can’t pay their rent tomorrow.”
The reason the group is targeting Spotify specifically? Variety reports that it’s due to their involvement in an appeal to overturn royalty increases for songwriters.
With recent controversy over Joe Rogan’s podcast streaming on Spotify, Red says it’s opened the door to highlight other issues. She is not stepping into that fight, but she appreciates what it’s doing to shed some light on their policies.
“Everyone has different grievances with Spotify, and I respect all of it. Some people were about misinformation. Some people were about racial slurs. We’re like, ‘And they pay us like sh–.’ With Rogan, I believe in free speech and feel like everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but they’re not going to build a business on our backs and not pay us and then pay him to call us the N-word. That’s just not going down. It’s not happening.”