Music Publishers: The Writers’ Strike Should Inspire Fair Pay for Songwriters

Tiffany Red is a Grammy-winning songwriter and songwriter advocate who has written hits for Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Jason Derulo and Zendaya, among others. She is founder and executive director of the 100 Percenters, a 501 c3 organization with the stated goal of advocating “for all music creatives with a focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and marginalized creatives.” Variety welcomes responsible commentary — email to submit.

Dear Music Publishers,

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I am writing this letter as a call to action for all major and independent music publishers to support the #paysongwriters movement. As the founder and executive director of the 100 Percenters, a music non-profit, and a songwriter myself for over 15 years, I have witnessed and experienced firsthand songwriters’ insurmountable struggles in their quest for a livable wage from publishing royalties. Unfortunately, the plight has increasingly led to one percent of the industry’s elite hogging most of the rewards. But what about everyone else? As I watch the Writers Guild of America and 11,500 of their members on strike for fair pay for screenwriters, I admire those with the courage to fight for a better tomorrow for their industry. And I wonder where that spirit is for songwriter’s compensation in the music industry.

It is disheartening to note that publishing companies have been turning a blind eye to this situation for far too long. Your silence on this matter speaks volumes:  Sitting idly by and watching the songwriters signed to your companies continue to suffer is no longer an option.

Given the potential backlash from the record labels you work with, you may hesitate to address this issue. However, I implore you to remember that you owe a responsibility to the songwriters you signed and promised support and protection in exchange for co-ownership and control of their copyrights. You cannot continue to overlook their struggles while you reap the financial benefits of their hard work.

As a non-profit organization, we have relentlessly advocated for fair pay for songwriters from record companies and artists for almost three years. We have staged protests, garnered significant press attention, and built a robust social media platform with viral posts on this issue. I trust you see and hear us, but we need you to act. Change may take time, but we cannot afford for you to move leisurely while songwriters continue to suffer anymore.

I implore you to recognize that you are on the wrong side of history at this moment. Inaction is a blemish on the music industry’s reputation and screams that you don’t really support songwriters. You possess the power to make a difference whether, and it is time to wield that power for the betterment of the songwriters who pen the hits your companies depend on to sustain their operations.

Therefore, please join us in this fight for fair pay for songwriters. The time has come to start making things right; we can only do it together. So, let us work towards a future where songwriters can earn a fair and livable wage. The time for action is now.

Tiffany Red

Founder & Executive Director

The 100 Percenters

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