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British Singer - Songwriter RAYE Speaks Out Against Record Labels' Poor Compensation For Songwriters

March 31, 2023 2 pm ET

By: Tiffany Red

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Raye, the South-London-born artist, and songwriter, recently visited Amazon Music UK's +44 Podcast hosted by Zeze Millz and David "Sideman" Whitely to speak about her music, the challenges facing songwriters, and her experience with record labels. The 25-year-old star is a force to be reckoned with, using her voice and platform to raise awareness about the injustices and difficulties many artists face.

During the podcast, Raye spoke passionately about the poor treatment of songwriters by record labels. She revealed that she had spent time with many talented songwriters who had written Top 10 Billboard hits but struggled to pay their rent. This shocking revelation sheds light on songwriters' challenges, who are often underpaid and undervalued in the music industry. However, Raye said it would take massive artists like Taylor Swift to bring attention to this conversation of lack of songwriter pay for things to change. Sideman chimed in and mentioned Beyonce as another artist he thinks could impact this convo. 

Raye is among the few notable artists who have spoken out about the issue of songwriter pay and the mistreatment of music creatives by record labels. Despite recently celebrating her first number one on the UK Single Charts with her hit single "Escapism" from her debut album, "My 21st Century Blues," 

Photo Credit: +44 Podcast

she continues to be a voice for the voiceless. The common theme of the artists who use their platform to talk about this subject is that they are or have been songwriters who have written for other artists. 

For instance, Muni Long, a former songwriter turned Grammy-winning R&B superstar, is a vocal advocate for songwriters. With hit tracks such as "Timber," "California King Bed," and "Worth It" under her belt from her decade-long career as a songwriter, she knows firsthand the importance of fair compensation for creators. In a January 2022 interview with Variety, she spoke out about the historical exploitation of songwriters, stating that "it has always been predatory," and she's excited to have a platform to bring awareness to the issue.

"I've spent so much time with so many incredible songwriters with top ten freakin' Billboard hits and they can't pay rent!"
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Raye

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Photo Credit: Muni Longs Twitter

Raye's own experience with record labels is another example of the problems that artists face. In 2021, she revealed that her debut album had been held up by her then-label, Polydor Records, for several years. Raye's decision to speak out demonstrates her determination to take control of her career and creative output.

 

Following her departure from Polydor, Raye signed with Human Re Sources, a prominent Los Angeles distribution and artist services company that Sony Music acquired in 2020. Last August in Euphoria, she said, "I am both empowered and supported, and I can not wait for this journey we will embark on together, in finally getting to release my debut album, seven years in the making."

"How can record labels justify taking such a large share of the profits when they are no longer responsible for building stars?"
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Tiffany Red

Raye also spoke about the traditional practice of record labels taking over 80% of the profits in exchange for an advance and their services, leaving the artist and music creatives to fight over the scraps. However, Zeze Millz pointed out that labels only sign artists who have already built a following and gone viral on platforms like TikTok. So the question arises: how can record labels justify taking such a large share of the profits when they are no longer responsible for building stars?

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