John Mulaney, Mike Birbiglia and more comedians have pulled out of Spotify – Billboard

Today, Spotify hosts a huge amount of verbal content on its platform, including comedy, podcasts, and poetry along with the music for which the platform has always been known. However, last week, on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, the streaming service quietly took down a series of recordings of its spoken comedy, which included several comedy stars. large as Mike Birbiglia, John Mulaney and Jeff Foxworthy.

Arousing confusion and outrage among these affected comedians and their fans, as of Wednesday (December 1), a week later, the Spotify takedown request is still in place. . So why is this happening in the first place?

Like music, there are two copyrights to a spoken comedy. First, the copyright to the sound recording – for which many comedians collect royalties through SoundExchange – and second, its underlying literary work, like the jokes you write on the page. But until recently, no one had formed a collection to earn any performance or mechanical royalties (known as “copy” royalties for speech) for basic literary copyright. .

Typing, Voice Giant, and Word Collection. Like the music performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI, these companies hold the performance rights license – and the mechanical license (“copy”), unlike the music EXPERTS – on behalf of for their signed speech talent. Spoken Giants was founded in 2019, after about a year of accumulating members who are the stars of over 300 top comics and spreading awareness of their purpose. Word Collections was founded in July 2020 by TuneCore and the founder of Audiam Jeff Price. Last spring, Spoken Giants began sending letters of recommendation and terms sheets to terrestrial and digital radio and streaming platforms, saying they wanted to start negotiating a rate for buying the rights to the rights. verbal content.

“This is something that has never been done before,” explains former BMI executive turned CEO of Spoken Giants. Jim King. “These rights have never been pursued.”

What sets the Spoken Giants and Word Collections efforts apart from ASCAP and BMI, however, in terms of performance rights ratios, is that they are not bound by a decree of government consent. government, this forced the negotiations of the music PROs with the DSP to be settled. in court rather than directly between the two parties.

However, King says the company is “templating the music industry itself”. “We don’t want any more or less than any other musician or type of creator might receive for their royalties. That way, we’re not trying to create something new.”

However, according to King, Spotify does not want to negotiate and in the past few months Spotify has mentioned the possibility of taking down the content.

Although Spoken Giants negotiators tried to get Spotify “talking first,” King said, “the next conversation we had was, well, it wasn’t really a conversation… It was just a conversation… emailed at 5pm on Thanksgiving night, saying they took them all down. “

When asked for comment, a Spotify spokesperson said, “Spotify has paid a substantial amount for the content in question and would love to continue to do so. However, because Spoken Giants is contesting the rights that different licensors have, the labels that distribute this content, Spotify, and Spoken Giants must work together to resolve this issue to ensure this content remains. available to fans around the globe. ”

While it’s still unclear the full range of comedians affected by the takedown requests, it looks like Spotify’s focus is on the Giants said. However, fans online have speculated other comedians like Robin Williams and Kevin Hart (neither of whom have worked with the Talking Giants) have also been dropped.

“Obviously I was quite shocked that Spotify removed so many stand-up comedy from its catalog… Unfortunately for so many comics that build their target audience rather than the people who find them on places like Spotify. They’re a big part of the audio market,” said the comedian Dan Cummins, who removed the content from Spotify.

“I agree with [Spoken Giants about Spotify],” said Price. “They may be a competitor, but we should all be fighting for the same reason, which is that comedians have been impressed by these streaming services. It’s not right, and it needs to stop.”

On Wednesday, at 9:15 p.m. EST, Spoken Giants sent the following letter to its member regarding the ongoing situation with Spotify.

Update on Spotify’s removal of material from Spoken Giants members and other comedians…

The reason for Spotify’s decision is unclear, and our legal and negotiation teams are working to re-engage with Spotify to establish an appropriate license for your basic literary rights. Spoken Giants has worked in good faith to negotiate a batch license for your comedy rights. In the last few days we’ve seen a report online where Spotify says it’s currently working with us to resolve this situation. We wish this was true and are working to make it happen!

Important points for you:

· Spoken Giants represent you, the comedians, who will get paid for the comedy you write, just like musicians get paid for the songs they write.

· Spoken Giants wants your works that we represent to be as widely available as possible, on as many platforms as possible.

· As we’ve worked to establish a fair, equitable license with Spotify, the Said Giant has never asked Spotify to take down comedy content.

Spotify unilaterally decided to remove content on the eve of Thanksgiving, after the end of the business day and for the long holiday weekend.

· Many comedians and record labels are being negatively impacted by Spotify’s retaliatory response to our legitimate, professional requests to discuss fair compensation.

Spotify hasn’t informed us yet that they will be reinstating comedy content on their service. A lot of good comedies aren’t available on Spotify right now because Spotify refuses to discuss paying you for what you write.

Not only is Spotify trying to punish comedians represented by Spoken Giants for asserting their right to get paid for the content they write, but it also looks like Spotify is getting rid of comedy by unaffiliated comedians with Spoken Giants writing.

Our goal is to represent you, members of the Spoken Giants, and work collaboratively with your comedy distribution platforms. We’ve reached out to Spotify to fix this issue as quickly as possible, keeping your best interests in mind. I’ll try to provide regular updates on where things are and welcome your feedback. Thank you very much for your patience and continued trust in the Speaking Giant.

https://www.billboard.com/pro/john-mulaney-mike-birbiglia-more-comedians-spotify-pulled-licensing/ John Mulaney, Mike Birbiglia and more comedians have pulled out of Spotify – Billboard

Dais Johnston

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