What first began the weekend of Thanksgiving is now happening the weekend of Easter.
Hey Spotify, we see a trend here.
As the weekend kicked off, Spotify escalated its aggressive stance toward comedy and continued to continued its purge of comedy albums from its catalog, this time taking aim at some of the smaller comedy labels and some independent labels that have some comedy releases. Comedians took to Twitter today to state that their releases on labels including AST Records, Blonde Medicine, 800 Pound Gorilla, Helium, Kill Rock Stars and yes, The Laugh Button Records.
Spotify removed a bunch of comedy albums from independent labels today. Spotify doesn’t seem so great huh?
— Megan Gailey (@megangailey) April 16, 2022
Spotify has removed a bunch of stand up comedy content, with a target on independent labels, in case any of my free speech Rogan heads want to chime in
— river SEATTLE/PDX 4/15-17 butcher 🤠 (@rivbutcher) April 16, 2022
. @Spotify took my comedy records down.
Quality outfit over there, ANYWAY,
here is MY youtube with playlists to all my stuff.
subscribe and share. https://t.co/dLO46LYTKW
— Billy Wayne Davis (@BillyWayneDavis) April 17, 2022
Spotify took my albums down, with the whole ast label, but will still let you make a Sean White radio featuring everyone but me. What a great company.
— Sean White (@SeanWhiteComedy) April 16, 2022
If you go to any of the Spotify pages for those comics or labels you will find them deadinked. What it deadlinked you ask? Basically the page still exists and you can see tracks, but when you click on them to play anything, it just will not work.
This is part of an ongoing legal battle happening between streaming giants and comedian rights management companies Word Collective and Spoken Giants. In a nutshell these companies are putting forth arguments that comedians have the rights to collect intellectual royalties for their recorded works, just like a musician is. There are essentially two types of royalties collected by these companies – intellectual (the writer) and mechanical (the recordings). While companies like ASCAP and BMI collect these royalties for musicians, until recently no companies existed to help comedians collect on anything than their mechanical royalties for albums. Opening up the very real possibility that comedians are owed millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.
Obviously big tech companies (or any company for that matter) would not want to pay millions more than they already are so they are all responding differently. Spotify chose to take a much more aggressive route and began to remove all comedy from its platform. Which will more than likely lead to lawsuits, which we are starting to see. This past February we saw our first one as Word Collective sued Pandora and its parent company, SiriusXM on behalf of the estates of George Carlin, Robin Williams, Ron White and more.
It appears we’re at an inflection point for comedians’ fight for monies owed. When the dust settles we’ll hopefully see a standard established for these comedians to be properly compensated for their work. While this is supremely easy to say and see down the line, the current reality is that many comics are taking hits to their careers while lawyers go out and lawyer things. Careers they are building on these platforms are taking a hit, and even moreso the very real situation that the longer their material is not on these platforms they take hits to the wallet.
So the question here is what can you as a comedy fan do to help right now? The answer is support the comedians that make you laugh. Here’s a list of things big and small you can do.
- Follow them on social media, and RT/Share their content
- Subscribe to their Youtube page, watch their videos and don’t complain about the ads
- Subscribe to their podcasts and leave comments on major podcast platforms
- Subscribe to their Patreon or other subscription platforms they are on
- Purchase physical copies of their album/video. When possible, do it via smaller retail spots like bandcamp or artist website
- Rent/purchase their digital special
- Play the albums on another streaming platform
- Purchase tickets to see them live
- Purchase their merch