December 10th Update on the Spotify situation for Spoken Giants members:
It is now the end of the second week since Spotify took down the work of hundreds of comedians. We are working day and night to get this resolved via multiple urgent communications to Spotify’s Head of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, as well as the Spotify legal counsel and will continue this push.
First, I have to spotlight Lewis Black, who spoke with BBC, ABC, and TIME to request that Spotify remove the remainder of his work until all comedy is restored and negotiations resume. He told TIME:
"I in no way represent all of the comedians on Spotify but I do believe that all of them should be paid for the writing that they have done and not just for the performance of what they wrote. It has taken a long time for Comedy to be recognized as an art form. Therefore, Spotify should recognize that a joke is as powerful as a lyric of a song, which they do pay for. Even the silliest of jokes make us do one of the most mysterious of all human behaviors – they make us laugh. If that can't be recognized for its financial worth, then nothing should. It’s that laugh that makes a joke ‘intellectual property’ which a comic has put time and energy and sweat into in order for it to be performed. Many comics have recently been taken off Spotify for no reason at all and it truly hurts their exposure and income. Since I haven't been taken off Spotify, I would like to be, as it is wrong that I am on the platform and so many aren't. I need neither the money now, nor the exposure, but please put all of the Comedians back on your platform and let’s sit down and find a way to pay us what we are owed for the words that make you laugh. Yes, a joke is intellectual property. Ha ha ha."
A huge thank you to Lewis, Dan Cummins, Eddie Pepitone, John Heffron, and several comedy managers who have spoken out on the record, or expressed a willingness to do so. Thank you to everyone who has tweeted, posted on instagram, and shared our message. There’s been a tremendous community effort to make those outside comedy understand the fight we are fighting
A point of clarification - Spotify’s media statement sidesteps the matter at hand in suggesting that this is an issue between Spoken Giants and the labels/distributors. That is incorrect. Just like in the music industry, labels and distributors only grant licenses for your sound recordings to be used. Labels and distributors cannot grant licenses for your underlying written content. YOU own the copyrights to your writing and only those you empower may grant those licenses and negotiate royalties for your written work. In music, that is the role of BMI and ASCAP, in comedy that is our role as your representative - to work on your behalf to obtain the proper value for your writing.
Since the take-down, many journalists have reported on our work to ensure comedians are paid the royalties they’ve earned. Below are just a handful.
This short podcast by Tim Ingham, founder of UK trade outlet, Music Business Worldwide, echoes the legal grounds and precedents that apply here, I urge you to take a listen.
BBC World News
ABC News Live
Wall Street Journal article
I'll continue to provide updates. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out.
CEO, Spoken Giants