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St. Vincent, Sleater-Kinney, and Pavement’s Publisher: “Fuck Spotify”

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Songwriter Bonnie McKee and publisher Kenny MacPherson speak with moderator and songwriter Ross Golan at The Art Of Collaboration: Songwriters & Music Publishers Making Music & History Together at The GRAMMY Museum on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for The Recording Academy)

Spotify‘s conflict with songwriters is escalating. For those who missed it, the company (along with Google, Amazon, and Pandora) recently appealed a ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board that would increase songwriter royalty payments by 44 percent over the next five years. Trade groups, hitmakers, and even Nashville’s city council have responded by publicly condemning these billion dollar companies’ resistance to sharing more of the pie. But no one has criticized Spotify as admirably as Kenny MacPherson — president of publishing company Big Deal, which manages catalogs for St. Vincent, Sleater-Kinney, Sharon Van Etten, Kamasi Washington, and more — who channeled his inner Suge Knight at today’s Ivor Novello Awards for songwriting and composition in London.

“Remember that, as songwriters, you haven’t had a raise for 110 years. Fuck Spotify,” MacPherson said during a speech at the show, according to Music Business Worldwide. Spotify representatives attended the ceremony, and MBW reports that the company’s table was “quiet in response.” A Vibe Awards-style brawl was probably unlikely, but tech suits squirming in their seats as a room full of songwriters gives them death stares is still pretty satisfying to imagine. One MBW source, identified only as a “senior US publishing figure,” told the website, “Believe me, what Kenny said up there on stage was brave – but the way we’re all feeling right now, it was an understatement.”

For now, the rate increase is on hold. Spotify’s appeal will face a fight in court and the company is prepared to dig its heels. “That will be a long drawn-out process,” CFO Barry McCarthy said in an earnings call this month, per Hypebot. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”

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