While certain segments of the internet are currently showing off their 2021 Wrapped, baffling subgenres and all, comedy fans have been confused as their favorite artists vanished from the platform. “Went to listen to @Braunger on Spotify and noticed that his albums were not on there anymore, same with @kylekinane,” Twitter user MrChexman wrote. “Is it just on my end or are they gone for good?” It was not just on their end. Billboard is reporting that tracks from John Mulaney, Mike Birbiglia, Kevin Hart, and many more were yeeted from the app over Thanksgiving. The reason? Money, duh.
Music rights are divided into two distinct categories: the performer and the songwriter. Both groups have to have a licensing deal with Spotify in order for a song to appear on the platform. Spoken word and stand-up comedy, until recently, has only had licenses for the performer. As the writer of the jokes, a stand-up doesn’t get literary rights for the work they’ve penned. Spoken Giants and Word Collections are two groups that are trying to rectify that. Per Billboard, when Spoken Giants sent over introductory letters and term sheets to negotiate these literary rights, Spotify clammed up. According to Spoken Giants CEO Jim King, Spotify said they’d “talk first,” but that “the next conversation we had, well, it wasn’t really a conversation … It was just an email at five o’clock on Thanksgiving Eve, saying they were taking it all down.” Spotify told Billboard that the real drama lay with Spoken Giants, who are “disputing what rights various licensors have,” and that the labels need to work with Spotify and these orgs to come to a solution. In the meantime, you can still stream comedians on other platforms, or get into some video comedy.