Bette Midler, meet Blake Morgan. Blake, meet Bette. You two should talk (about #irespectmusic).
@BetteMidler: @Spotify and @Pandora have made it impossible for songwriters to earn a living: three months streaming on Pandora, 4,175,149 plays=$114.11. On Friday, a tweet from @BetteMidler read, "@Spotify and @Pandora have made it impossible for songwriters to earn a living: three months streaming on Pandora, 4,175,149 plays=$114.11."
Such an indictment from a superstar of movie, film, and Broadway is certainly a feather in the cap for the movement fighting for fair treatment of artists by online music companies. But the movement is not new. Where ya been, Bette?
In May of 2013, an email exchange between Pandora founder Tim Westergren and indie artist/label-owner Blake Morgan made national news after it was picked up by Huffington Post. Blake's responses were fueled by his now well-known $1.62 royalty checked being issued for his 27,900 plays on Pandora.
Since then, Blake's initially unhappy-customer emails have grown exponentially into a movement. It even has its own hashtag: #irespectmusic. In January, irespectmusic.org launched with a mission of securing fair pay for songwriters when their music is played.
Scrolling down Blake's Facebook page will tell you just how successful this campaign has become. Celebrity selfies abound, complete with self-scrawled #irespectmusic hashtags of all shapes and sizes. David Byrne, Patrick Stewart, Gavin DeGraw, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Roseanne Cash, and many others have joined in the fight.
Take a look at this #irespectmusic promotional video:
So, thanks, Bette. Yes, it is shocking that so much (4 million plays) can yield so little (a hundred bucks). It's a shame, really. And your tweet will help spread awareness of Pandora's and Spotify's treatment of songwriters. But folks have stepped forward to do something about it. It would be really beneficial if, from this point forward, you take this disappointment and carry the #irespectmusic flag to help improve the way songwriters are compensated in the modern era.