Streaming royalties are broken, and Rashida Tlaib thinks Congress can fix them – TechCrunch


there has never been Becoming a musician is an easy time, but for many in and around the industry, the 21st century has brought disaster after disaster for those hoping to make a living from music. The turn of the century saw record labels imploding at breakneck speed, and it would be a while before some salvation came in the form of streaming services, which finally provided an efficient way to monetize music listening.

Examined under the harsh sun, however, a major question arises: Who are these services actually good for? Streaming accounts for 83 percent of all recorded music revenue in the U.S., according to the Recording Industry Association of America. As of 2020. Calculating an artist’s revenue per stream can be a complex task.

Different rights holders make different deals, and you have a lot of chefs vying for that money, including publishers, distributors, and record labels. Spotify’s generally accepted number is Between $0.003 and $0.005 Paid to the artist per stream. This number varies by service, but is usually only a fraction.Notably, Apple Revealed last April It pays about a cent per stream — a generous figure by streaming industry standards.

Earning rates have, of course, been a common complaint among musicians for over a decade, but as with many other labor issues, things have come to a head during the pandemic. More than two years of limited or no tours have eased concerns considerably. In late 2020, the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) launched the Justice Movement on Spotify to raise awareness of the issue.

“With the entire live music ecosystem at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic, musicians are more dependent on streaming revenue than ever,” the group noted at the time. “We call on Spotify to provide more royalty payments, increase Transparency in their approach and stop fighting with artists.”

The union will finally find sympathetic ears in Congress in the form of Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib. last week, reports surfaced The congresswoman is working on a resolution to create a royalty program that would adequately compensate musicians through per-stream royalties. “It was a meeting with the Musicians and United Workers Union,” Tlaib told TechCrunch. “One thing that keeps coming up is what Congress can do to support their efforts to be protected, and to get musicians fairly compensated for their work. Respected in this space, especially from so many in the industry who continue to monopolize etc. “They did a fantastic job coming to us with this offer and teaching my team and me a lot of details about how it works now.”

Tlaib said her team worked closely with UMAW on the draft resolution. “We do the same thing with housing bills, trying to address the economic divide in our country. We let them lead us. I’m working for them, helping them and advocating on their behalf. They taught me a lot about industry monopolies, and Specifically how Spotify is perfidious in many ways.”

Musicians and UMAW members/organizers (and musician/Corresponding Author) Damon Krukowski said in a statement to TechCrunch:

Currently, music streaming is creating wealth for streaming platforms at the expense of musicians. UMAW is working to correct this imbalance. The legislation proposed by Rep. Tlaib would guarantee that platforms pay minimal fees directly to musicians who play streaming recordings. The infrastructure for such payments already exists because satellite broadcasting already requires them. For fairness and the sustainability of recorded music, the same principles need to be applied to streaming.

Tlaib’s resolution will hire the nonprofit royalty organization SoundExchange and the Copyright Royalty Committee to calculate and distribute royalties. The two agencies already provide similar functions for Internet radio and satellite radio. This will effectively operate in a complementary mode tailored for streaming.

As news of the resolution surfaced in late July, news was already out in the industry. Tlaib said she hasn’t spoken to Spotify directly, explaining, “I know they do.” She added: “My priority is not the company. It probably never will. They have their lawyers, they have their say customers, they have their resources to run ads and get people to say that all the things they say will happen when we continue to push this. My priority is to do the right thing and there is no Fair trade.”

TechCrunch reached out to Spotify about the matter, but has yet to receive comment. CEO Daniel Ek has blasted in the past for suggesting that a simple streaming model can’t — or won’t — support musicians the way record sales have in the past. “Some artists who have performed well in the past may not perform well in the environment of the future,” he said in An interview in July 2019“You can’t record music every three to four years and think that’s enough.”

Tlaib’s resolution is already starting to gain traction among his House colleagues. Most recently, New York Rep. Jamal Bowman — also a member of the squad — backed the draft, which is still awaiting review by House legislative advisers.

Tlaib told TechCrunch she believes such legislation could also gain bipartisan support in Congress.

“I think what’s happened is people don’t realize that a lot of the people affected by what’s going on are in all congressional districts. I don’t think you can go to any district that isn’t affected by it or doesn’t understand how unfair it is. I know We will be able to – especially through the work the Musicians and United Workers Union has done outside Congress – to make this legislation a workable one.”

Tlaib’s own area — including West Detroit — can certainly claim to be affected by this.

“Detroit is the global music capital of the world: Motown, tech, jazz, gospel. I want to honor that and honor this incredible work that plays a huge role in the work of the movement,” she said Say. “Music has always been a big part of my growing up in the social justice movement. It’s a way of bringing people together to try not only to understand human suffering, but also to understand the possibilities of ‘better’. When I think about It’s inspiring when these amazing musicians come together like this. So why not? Why don’t they deserve Spotify and the rest of the majors in the industry to pay them what they deserve?”



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