The launch comes amid strained relations with songwriters and publishers.
Spotify is spotlighting the songwriter community with the introduction of a new beta.
On Wednesday (Feb. 12), the streaming service announced the launch of songwriter pages, touted as “a new way for fans, collaborators and industry partners to dive deeper into the creators behind their favorite songs.” The streaming service states that the pages will allow songwriters to share the music they’ve written on Spotify and further discovery by fans and/or potential collaborators.
A Spotify spokesperson tells Billboard that the songwriter pages will be rolled out incrementally and includes only a limited number of songwriters to start, though more can request to be involved by filling out this form. At launch, the beta includes pages for songwriters Meghan Trainor, Fraser T Smith, Missy Elliott, Teddy Geiger, Ben Billions and Justin Tranter.
To make songwriters more discoverable on Spotify, participating songwriters’ names are now clickable in Spotify song credits. After clicking a name, users are then routed to an individual songwriter page, which includes a list of all the songs they’ve written and their most frequent artist collaborators. Songwriters will also have the ability to share a link to their songwriter page via their social media pages and official websites, which others can access whether they’re a Spotify user or not.
Each songwriter page will also feature a “Written By” playlist of songs – discoverable via search – that users can opt to follow. In an effort to publicize the beta, these “Written By” playlists will be featured on the home tab for all Spotify listeners.
In a release, Spotify claims that since it began publicly displaying song credits in 2018, the service has seen a 60% increase in the frequency of labels and distributors crediting songwriters on their new releases.
“Spotify is always working to create new and better ways to promote music discovery — for artists, for songs and, increasingly, for songwriters,” said Jules Parker, Spotify’s head of publishing & songwriter relations, in a statement. “The launch of publicly visible songwriter credits on Spotify in 2018 was merely a first step. Together with the publishing industry, we’ve continued to evolve our data sharing and analytics efforts, and are proud to unveil this next iteration. …We’re excited to see how the world interacts with these new features, and look forward to enabling them for more and more songwriters.”
In his own statement, BMG director of digital strategy Christopher Ludwig praised the launch of the new pages, calling the initiative “a significant step forward for the whole industry.”
The unveiling of the songwriter pages comes amidst strained relations between streaming services and the songwriter community. In January 2018, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) awarded a royalty rate increase of nearly 44% over a five-year period to songwriters and publishers, the largest rate increase in the organization’s history. After the increase was finalized the following January (and retroactively applied to January 1, 2018), Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora and Google filed an appeal of the decision, with Spotify specifically noting that while it supported a royalty rate increase for songwriters, the formula the CRB used to determine the increase had “significant flaws.”
That appeal arrived simultaneously to a separate one from the National Association of Music Publishers (NMPA) and the Nashville Songwriters International Association, which disputed a membership discount the CRB determination granted to streaming services that would have resulted in decreased payouts to publishers and songwriters. Further angering publishers and songwriters, in June 2019, Spotify revealed it would be retroactively applying that discount, making moves to recoup what it claimed it had “overpaid” publishers the prior year.
In November, the Music Artists Coalition (MAC) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) filed a joint amicus brief urging the D.C. Court of Appeals to uphold the CRB’s royalty rate increase, arguing that the compulsory license songwriters had been subject to for over a century hadn’t kept pace with musical works’ actual value and exerted a “depressive effect” on songwriter income.