Comedian Lewis Black has called Spotify to remove his work from the Spotify platform until his fellow comic’ complete catalogs are restored to the streaming platform.
Lewis Black’s request comes in the wake of Spotify pulling down hundreds of comedy albums on November 24, a night before Thanksgiving amid an ongoing dispute with publishing rights Company’ Word Collections and Spoken Giants’ joins fight – over whether comedians deserve royalties on their written work rather than the audio of their performances.
Comedians do not receive royalties for writing their jokes. However, in the music world, royalties are paid to the artist who performs the master recordings and song’s writer.
“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,” Black said in a statement to TIME. “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.”
While Spotify removed a portion of Lewis Black’s releases in November, some of his discographies remain on the platform. Spotify also removed work from famous comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart, John Mulaney, and Tiffany Haddish.
“Many comics have recently been taken off Spotify for no reason at all and it truly hurts their exposure and income,” Black told TIME. “Since I haven’t been taken off, 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 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.”
Spotify did not immediately respond to the media’s request for comment on Lewis’s statement but previously addressed the royalty dispute in a December statement to CNBC.
“Spotify has paid significant amounts of money for the content in question, and would love to continue to do so,” the statement read. “However, given that Spoken Giants is disputing what rights various licensors have, it’s imperative that the labels that distribute this content, Spotify and Spoken Giants come together to resolve this issue to ensure this content remains available to fans around the globe.”
Kyle Kinane tweeted out a screenshot of his streaming earnings and wrote: “Here’s some perspective on streaming royalties,” he wrote. “If you think I’m even a remotely famous comic, think about the folks that are grinding it out with just live shows and streaming income to lean on.”
If you ever wanted to know why the live shows and ticket sales are important, here’s some perspective on streaming royalties. And the chart shows my $ from ALL streaming, not just Spotify and Pandora. I average $2k a month from my entire catalog. pic.twitter.com/s40xVhPKEE
— Kreamy Kavalcade (@kylekinane) December 2, 2021
King (Spoken Giants CEO) urged Spotify to return to the bargaining table and continue negotiating over the writer’s Copyright.
“We want comedians to benefit from the exposure Spotify provides and earn royalties for their written work, which is the basis of every great comedy performance,” he said. “No one wants to lose Spotify as a platform, we just want to establish that underlying written works in comedy have value.”