RAYE has spoken out about the challenges facing young songwriters, and what needs to change with major labels in the shifting musical landscape.
The singer made headlines when she parted ways with Polydor Records last year after claiming that the label had refused to release her debut album, despite signing a four-album deal in 2014.
Speaking on the red carpet at last week’s Ivor Novellos – where she was nominated for Songwriter Of The Year among the likes of Adele, Dave and Coldplay – the singer told NME that she had “found peace” with her former label, but that many more changes were still needed in the music industry to make songwriters feel valued and financially stable.
“Songwriting is a craft that people don’t see, because it’s done in the darkness in studios and behind closed doors,” said RAYE. “I don’t think people realise how essential songwriters are in an industry based on songs.
“Things need to be put in place to protect our future songwriters – to nurture them and make them feel special and important.”
The singer told NME that the shortlist for her category at the Ivors proved that there was “an openness that there hasn’t been before in styles, flavours, genres and different types of expression” in modern music, and how the major label model needed to respond to this.
“For the first time, we’re seeing that the ‘we need a hit’ model is fading,” she said. “It doesn’t work anymore. I think major labels are realising that you can’t blackmail the system anymore. You used to be able to slap a bag of money down on the table and be like, ‘Play my artist’. That’s how it used to work.
“Streaming has taken over and now the people decide. That’s what is opening the market to different flavours of excellence to be shining through.”
Admitting that “there are things that need to change and need to happen,” she said that she was “honestly worried for the future of songwriting and for those little girls and boys [coming into the craft]”.
“I remember how dark and hard it was in those early days when no-one cared and you hadn’t done enough to demand any respect,” she said. “There need to be things put in place. At the very bare minimum, a fee. Food, drink and travel should be covered – and it’s not. That’s coming out of a songwriter’s pocket. You don’t get a fee if the song gets cut, because major labels will pay the producer, but they don’t pay the songwriter.”
RAYE ended with words of advice for rising and would-be songwriters: “I wouldn’t even want to encourage songwriters to get into this industry, that’s how wrong I think some things are. But when you love it the way I do, you’re able to make it work somehow. I would say to any budding songwriters: strap in, record everything on voice notes, screenshot dates, keep evidence.
“If everyone tries to come in and take your split, you’ll have all of the evidence you need to show your contribution.”
In a post announcing her independence last year, RAYE said: “Polydor are an incredible infrastructure power house team, unfortunately we have had different goals artistically and I am very grateful to them for giving me a graceful smooth exit to start my next chapter as an artist.”
Earlier this year, she teamed up with Disclosure for the collaborative single ‘Waterfall‘. News of her debut album proper is expected in the coming months.