May 18, 2023 -BBC News –Pop star Raye used the Ivor Novello Awards to challenge a room full of record label executives to pay songwriters more fairly.
Her comments came as she accepted the prize for best contemporary song.
“It would be an insult to suggest that you go to work for free,” she told the audience. “And it’s an insult that you think songwriters should do the same.”
Her comments were echoed by Chic star Nile Rodgers who told them BBC writers’ pay hadn’t increased for “75 years”.
“I mean, come on, if you work at a pizza shop, you’re going to get a raise in 75 years,” he said.
The issue has become a flashpoint for the music industry, prompting a review of the streaming economy by the British parliament in 2021.
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Raye has been an outspoken critic of the industry after spending nearly a decade in record label penury, unable to release an album without their say-so.
The 25-year-old split with Polydor in 2021 and went on to score her first ever number one single with Escapism, a song they had refused to release because it was deemed uncommercial.
Written when she was at her lowest ebb, the song has now earned her an Ivor Novello Award, and she used the opportunity to raise the issue of payment.
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She noted that songwriters aren’t entitled to a single penny of an artist’s royalties when they write a hit song, while producers regularly get a 4% share.
“The record industry is making more money than it has in the last 30 years, funded by songs that they aren’t paying for,” she explained to the BBC backstage.
“So I’m going to be a broken record about this until something changes.”
The Ivors, as they’re known, are the awards the most musicians want to win, because they recognise achievement in songwriting, rather than pure commercial sales.
“It’s one of the only awards that honours artists for being artists on a deeper level than just how big you are,” said rapper Kojey Radical, whose single Payback was also nominated for best contemporary song.
This year’s ceremony saw Harry Styles’ As It Was named the most-performed song of the year, while black-centric music collective Sault won album of the year for 11.