Spotify has pulled the works of some of the most popular comedians, including Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, John Mulaney, and Jim Gaffigan due to a royalties dispute. First reported by The Wall Street Journal, a number of high-profile entertainers are pursuing royalty payments for their jokes when they’re played on the radio, as well as on services like Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and SiriusXM.
The comics’ efforts are backed by global rights administration company, Spoken Giants, which works to ensure that entertainers are properly compensated for spoken-word content. As the WSJ notes, comedians are typically paid by their label or distributor — along with digital performance rights organization SoundExchange — when a digital service plays their content. However, they’re technically not compensated for writing that content, something that Spoken Giants hopes to change.
After failed negotiations with Spoken Giants, Spotify removed hundreds of comedians’ content from the service. In a statement to the WSJ, Spotify said that it already paid “significant amounts of money for the content in question, and would love to continue to do so.” The Verge reached out to Spotify with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.
There’s no word whether Spotify will try to reach an agreement with Spoken Giants again, or if the comedians’ content will ever return. With Spotify expected to have over 400 million users by the end of the year, the affected comedians may be missing out on massive amounts of visibility.