After a dispute between Spotify and performers regarding royalties, the Spotify platform has removed the comedy routines and punchlines of hundreds of comedians. 

Tiffany Haddish (with John Mulaney), Kevin Hart, Mike Birbiglia and Jim Gaffigan are some of the big-name comedians who have fewer comedy songs available on YouTube.

Spoken Giants was founded in 2019 and is a worldwide rights management company. The comedians sought to receive royalties for both their performance as well as for intellectual property they created in comedy routines. 

Spoken Giants stated that Spotify had been in negotiations to address the problem since spring. However, Spotify took several songs from well-known comedians and removed them without any warning just before Thanksgiving.

“@Spotify decided unilaterally to remove the content on the night prior to Thanksgiving, just as everyone was about start a 4-day holiday. As we were about to fall into food comas, @Spotify unilaterally decided to take the content down on the night before Thanksgiving when everyone was set for a four-day holiday.

Tiffany Haddish, John Mulaney, Kevin Hart, Mike Birbiglia, and Jim Gaffigan are among the household name performers who now have fewer comedy tracks available for streaming on the platform

The comedians signed with Spoken Giants, a global rights administration company founded in 2019, seeking to be paid royalties not just for their performances, but for the intellectual property in their comedy routines

Jim Gaffigan and John Mulaney are two of the most well-known comedians who have less comedy tracks on YouTube. Spoken Giants was established in 2019 and is seeking royalty payments for comedians who signed with Spoken Giants. This company provides global rights administration services.

Spoken Giants alleged that negotiations with Spotify to tackle the issue started during the Spring, but that without warning, Spotify removed several albums from famous comedians just before Thanksgiving

Spoken Giants claimed that Spotify had been in negotiations to address the problem since the spring, but Spotify took several albums of comedians without any warning just before Thanksgiving.

Spoken Giants is now advocating for the entertainers to get paid royalties over copyright for the actual content of their specials on streaming services such as Spotify, SiriusXM, Pandora, and YouTube

Spoken Giants now advocates for entertainers to be paid royalties rather than copyright for their original content on streaming services like Spotify, SiriusXM and Pandora.

Spotify said it has paid 'significant amounts of money for the content in question, and would love to continue to do so' but it was necessary to remove the comedy albums until reaching an agreement

Spotify stated that it had paid “significant amounts of money” for the content, but decided to take down comedy albums in order to reach an agreement. 

Birbiglia took to Twitter to ask about sudden album removals, including Mulaney’s “Two Drink Mike” special and Mulaney’s “New in Town.”

On November 27, he tweeted, ‘Random query: Can anyone explain why Comedy Central songs were taken off Spotify? 3 of mine are gone, some of Mulaney’s, one of (Dave) Attell’s, but then some are still there— like (Mitch) Hedberg. Are there any rights concerns with comedy albums that you are aware of?

Spoken Giants now advocates for entertainers to be paid royalties rather than copyright for their original content on streaming services like Spotify, SiriusXM and Pandora.

Digital performance rights organizations and labels pay comedians for digital content. But, they now want to be paid for their jokes.

They are not paid as comedians at the moment.

Spotify could argue that Spotify needs to review contracts with its labels, in order to compensate comedians for what Spoken Giants calls their ‘literary right’

The organization posted a tweet on Wednesday saying that Spoken Giants wanted the jokes of the comedians to be enjoyed by as many people across as possible.

On November 27, Birbiglia tweeted: 'Random question: Does anyone know why some of the Comedy Central albums got taken off Spotify? 3 of mine are gone, some of Mulaney's, one of Attell's, but then some are still there¿ like Hedberg. Anyone know about any rights things happening behind the scenes with comedy albums?'

The move also seemed to have taken the comics by surprise, with Birbiglia taking to Twitter after Thanksgiving to inquire about the sudden removal of several albums such as his 'Two Drink Mike' special or Mulaney's 'New in Town

Spotify’s decision also took the comics by surprise. Mike Birbiglia (comedian) used Twitter after Thanksgiving in an attempt to find out about Spotify’s abrupt removal of several albums, including his ‘Two Drink Mike special (left), or John Mulaney’s ‘New in Town’ (right). 

Spoken Giants wants comedians paid for their jokes, the same way songwriters are paid for songs,’ the statement added.

Spoken Giants CEO Jim King was a former BMI executive in music rights management and said that this sudden decision could be detrimental to artists’ exposure.

Spotify provides entertainers exposure to big audiences. King stated that it was harmful for each creator to have their work removed.

Spoken Giants stated that Spotify sent them an email informing them about their negotiations with Spotify. It also informed the group of all its work, pending an agreement.

Spotify stated in a statement that it had paid “significant amounts” for the content and is open to continuing to do so.

'Spoken Giants just wants comedians to be paid for the jokes they write, just like songwriters get paid for the songs they write,' it added.

Comedians such as Tiffany Hadish and Kevin hart have had their work removed from Spotify

The organization posted that Spoken Giants wanted comedians paid for their jokes, much like songwriters are paid for songs. Comedians such as Tiffany Hadish (left) and Kevin Hart  (right) have had their work removed from Spotify over the dispute 

Although Spoken Giants solely represents comedians at the moment, they plan to also advocate for writers of podcasts, speeches, and lectures in the future, the Journal reported

Spoken Giants currently represents only comedians. However, in the future they will advocate for speakers, podcasters, and lecturers, according to the Journal.

Spoken Giants argues that although digital streaming services have not been seen traditionally as designated channels where people could access comedy, that is changing and now a sizeable audience streams comedy specials through platforms like Spotify

Spoken Giants asserts that digital streaming services are no longer considered channels that allow people to access comedy. However, this is beginning to change and a large audience now streams specials on Spotify.

“However, Spoken Giants is contesting the rights of various licensors, it’s imperative for the labels that distribute the content to Spoken Giants and Spotify to come together to solve this problem to ensure that this content continues to be available to all fans across the globe.”

King said that while digital streaming platforms were traditionally not considered channels for comedy access, it is now that a significant audience can stream comedy specials via Spotify.

There wasn’t much you could collect. It’s now a totally different world, King stated. It makes perfect sense to have a licensing company that is collective.

The company represents only comedians right now, but they intend to advocate for speakers, podcasters, and lecturers in the future.

Spoken Giants stated on Twitter that they are not sure when comedy content removed from its site will return.

The organization posted that ‘for now, millions of comedy fans are not able to listen to their favourite comedians on Spotify, because Spotify won’t pay comedians for jokes they make’.

Spoken Giants said on Twitter that the organization is not aware of when the removed comedy content will be back on its service

Spoken Giants tweeted that it isn’t aware when the deleted comedy content will be returned to its service.