Songwriter Kevin Kadish, who co-penned Meghan Trainor’s Grammy nominated single All About That Bass, claims he received just $5,679 in royalties — even though the track was streamed over 178 million times. That means that it took well over 31,000 streams for him to make just one dollar in royalties. While Kadish notes that the copyright for the song and the resulting royalties were split between him and Trainor, he complained to members of Congress this week that this is an unfairly low rate.
“That’s as big a song as a songwriter can have in their career and No. 1 in 78 countries,” he said according to The Tennessean. “But you’re making $5,600. How do you feed your family?” And Kadish certainly isn’t an unknown songwriter. Since 2000, he’s written songs for Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, Meat Loaf, Michelle Branch, Mötley Crüe‘s Nikki Stix and many others.
His testimony was part of a roundtable hosted by the House Judiciary Committee in hopes of making music copyrights more equitable. Representative Doug Collins is the lead sponsor of the proposed Songwriter Equality Act which aims to improve royalty payouts to music publishers and songwriters. Currently, the mechanical licenses that the government requires streamers to pay songwriters are non-negotiable, according to the Royalty Exchange. (As Ars Technica notes, songwriters also receive royalties from “performance licenses,” which can sometimes be negotiated.)
While a complicated issue, it’s one that can make or break the career of successful songwriters. Right now, Collins is hoping that a more equitable solution can be reached with less governmental involvement.
“There is inequity at this point — how you solve that inequity there may be some disagreement,” said Collins to The Tennessean. “But we’re moving to some ideas that would remove the governmental barriers. Almost everyone said, except for the ones who want status quo, that the government part of it is something that could be removed, and there’s a better way to fix that.”