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Songwriters Protest Spotify In LA: ‘I Just Want to Be Able to Pay My Bills’

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Image via Getty/Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto

A group of songwriters led by the organization The 100 Percenters gathered outside of Spotify’s old West Hollywood office Monday afternoon (Feb. 28) to protest the streaming service’s low royalty rates. Dubbed “#WeWroteThat,” the collection of creatives began  congregating around noon while holding signs with phrases like “My time costs money,” “Would you work for free?,” “Spotify is valued at $67 billion — pay artists” and “1 cent per stream.”

Event organizer Tiffany Red — a professional songwriter and founder of The 100 Percenters who has credits on songs performed by Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo and more — says the protest at 9200 Sunset Blvd. (a building Spotify previously occupied before moving to its current headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District in 2018) was motivated by a myriad of grievances she has with streaming services and Spotify in particular, including the company’s fight against increasing the royalty rates songwriters and publishers are paid per stream.

Monday’s protest is part of a larger ongoing battle over the royalties paid by services like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Pandora.  In Oct. 2021, the National Music Publishers’ Association asked the Copyright Royalty Board, which determines the streaming royalty rates for periods of five years, for a 32.4% increase in the headline rate to 20% of a digital service’s revenue for the full five-year term for Phonorecords IV (a period covering 2023-2027). By contrast, Spotify, Pandora and Amazon proposed lower rates for songwriters and publishers in Phono IV than in any year since 2018.

Another major pain point for songwriters is that they’re still being compensated according to the rate set in Phono II (2013-2017) while awaiting a final ruling on an appeal — filed by Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora and YouTube — of the CRB’s rate hike for Phono III (2018-2022), which would have led to higher payouts.

Other protestors point to Joe Rohan’s more than $200 million deal to host his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, on Spotify exclusively as an impetus for the protest. “They tell us they can’t pay us more and then they go and give a podcaster that much money?” says Bianca “Blush” Atterberry, an artist and songwriter who has written for artists including Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor and Chris Brown and is also a member of The 100 Percenters board. “If we didn’t exist, making the music, neither would Spotify.”

Rogan’s recent scandals — including the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and his repeated use of N-word on the podcast — have recently sparked criticism among several prominent musicians. Some, like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby and India Arie, have left platform in protest.

Red says that Arie’s criticism of Spotify’s low royalty payouts specifically was a major factor in spearheading The 100 Percenter’s protest. “When India.Arie started to speak out about how the artists and songwriters are paid, I realized that now the fight against Spotify is coming into everybody’s living rooms, and it’s important for us to get out there and show our face,” says Red.

When asked why The 100 Percenters chose the site of Spotify’s former office, Red replied, “Because we wanted to start where they started. Our next in-person event will be going to where they are now in Downtown.” She points to how the company upgraded from the significantly smaller West Hollywood location to their new sprawling Arts District campus as a sign of the company’s wealth. “They were able to make that move easily and comfortably,” she says.

Rogan and Spotify aside, the #WeWroteThat protest comes down to the fight for better pay for working creatives overall. “I just want to be able to pay my bills. I just want to afford basic expenses. We songwriters struggle every day,” says Kaydence, a songwriter and board member of The 100 Percenters. “I’ve written for some of the biggest artists in the world, like Ariana [Grande] and Beyonce, and it’s still hard.”

“We give our all to make music and then we watch as other people make millions and billions off it,” adds Caso, another professional songwriter who was at the protest. “People see the credits of the song and they think dollar signs, but the reality is different.”

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Russell Crowe Will Next Appear In The MCU As Zeus In Thor: Love and Thunder

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Source: movieweb.com

Fans of actor Russell Crowe can next see the actor as he joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor: Love and Thunder. Crowe will join the pantheon of the Marvel gods, starring as Zeus alongside Chris Hemsworth as the Asgardian, Thor.

“I never thought I’d see the day where Russell would appear on screen with hints at Gladiator imagery, yet with a wink-totally self-deprecating,” Hemsworth said of Crowe’s role in the Marvel movie. “He didn’t hold back. I’m such a fan. I have been since I first started acting. There’s such a weight and a seriousness to his performances and to him, as an individual, from afar. But meeting him, he has a great sense of humor and did whatever Taika asked on set, which was mind-blowing. And it was really fun to play with the mythology, going from Norse to Greek mythology – Taika pulls all these worlds together.”

Thor: Love and Thunder finds the Asgardian and former Avenger embarking on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced — a quest for inner peace. However, his retirement gets interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher, a galactic killer who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, who — to his surprise — inexplicably wields his magical hammer. Together, they set out on a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance.

Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Love and Thunder is scheduled to be released on July 8, 2022, as part of Phase Four of the MCU.

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Russell Crowe And Ray Winstone Throw Punches In Boxing Biopic Prizefighter

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Starring Russell Crowe, Ray Winstone, and Matt Hookings, Prizefighter tells the true story of Jem Belcher

The first trailer for Prizefighter has Russell Crowe, Ray Winstone, and Matt Hookings lead this tale of the birth of boxing. Released courtesy of Empire, Prizefighter is scheduled to land on Prime Video next month, and tells the tragic true story of James “Jem” Belcher, an English bare-knuckle prize-fighter. You can watch the trailer for Prizefighter below.

Directed by Daniel Graham, Prizefighter is written by Matt Hookings, who also stars as Jem Belcher. The movie will explore the life of Jem Belcher, a bare-knuckle prize-fighter who became the Champion of All England from 1800 to 1805. As well as being the youngest ever world champion, and bringing boxing more into the mainstream, Belcher was beset with all manner of tragedy during his sadly short life, and was left blind at 22 and dead by the age of 30.

Starring alongside newcomer Matt Hookings in the lead, Prizefighter features an all-star cast that includes Academy Award winner Russell Crowe as Belcher’s grandfather, Jack Slack, with Black Widow star Ray Winstoneon board as Belcher’s trainer, Bill Warr. The rest of the supporting cast is comprised of Marton Csokas, Jodhi May, Steven Berkoff, Julian Glover, and Bill Moseley.

Both Russell Crowe and Ray Winstone are no strangers to the boxing game, with the former having starred as heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock in director Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man, while the latter boxed in real-life during his youth, winning 80 out of 88 bouts.

Prizefighter is streaming on Prime Video from 22 July, and is sure to be a powerful biopic, no doubt heightened by performances from Crowe and Winstone, and telling a lesser-known story that deserves to be told.

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Tom Cruise Explains Why He Turned Down Role Of Iron Man

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Actor Tom Cruise has long enjoyed a history of playing action heroes but never a superhero. Still, many of characters come across as indestructible to the point where they might as well be a superhero. Most recently, Cruise has revived his popular Ethan Hunt role in Mission Impossible franchise and is flying high with enormous box office success from Top Gun: Maverick. The soon-to-be 60-year-old star has revealed how he came close to playing Tony Stark’s Iron Manin the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, the part went to Robert Downey Jr. who made the character and its armored body his own.

Prior to the release of 2008’s Iron Man, Cruise was offered the opportunity to play Tony Stark but turned it down. He has opened up as to why he turned it down. As someone who has a reputation for thorough work, performing his own stunts, etc., one of the actor’s priorities appears to be wanting control over the project.

alt="Top Gun Maverick TC"Paramount Pictures

Even Cruise admits that Downey has become so fused with Tony Stark that it is hard to imagine anyone else in the role. As for when he was first approached to star as Iron Man and why he declined the part, Cruise explained:

“[Marvel Studios] came to me at a certain time and, when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work. I need to be able to make decisions and make the film as great as it can be, it just didn’t go down that road that way.”

In another interview, Cruise confessed he believes the role of Tony Stark was perfect for Robert Downey Jr. He said,

“Not close and I love Robert Downey Jr. I can’t imagine anyone else in that role and I think it’s perfect for him.”

When it comes to allowing fans seeing him play a superhero at some point in time, the actor does not rule it out but does say the project would have to meet his standards, stating:

“It’s what’s the story? Does it interest me?”

Whether Cruise joins the MCU or DCEU remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the actor seems to enjoy playing a hero of the mission impossible kind.

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