The United Musicians and Allied Workers Union (UMAW) has garnered support from across the music world for a new campaign titled Justice At Spotify. Among other goals, the campaign is demanding that the platform raise its average streaming royalty from $.0038 USD to one cent per stream for all artists.
Writing on the campaign’s website, organisers explained: “One of Spotify’s core goals is to give ‘a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art’. Yet, to generate a single dollar on the platform, a song needs to be streamed 263 times.”
“To put that in perspective, it would take 786 streams to generate enough revenue to buy an average cup of coffee. To pay the median American monthly rent ($1,078) an artist needs to generate 283,684 recurring streams monthly. And to earn $15/hr each month working full time, it would take 657,895 streams per band member.”
The UMAW – which describe themselves as an organisation that “aims to organize music workers to fight for a more just music industry, and to join with other workers in the struggle for a better society” – is also urging the streaming giant to switch to a more “user-centric” payment model – as opposed to its current per-stream model.
“Spotify is the most dominant platform on the music streaming market. The company behind the streaming platform continues to accrue value, yet music workers everywhere see little more than pennies in compensation for the work they make,” reads a statement from the union.
“With the entire live music ecosystem in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic, music workers are more reliant on streaming income than ever.”
Alongside better rates for artists, organisers also want greater transparency from Spotify, in areas such as in the case of closed-door contracts with larger labels. The union is also asking for credits to be improved, so that every musician, producer, audio engineer, mastering engineer and others involved in the work of recording is properly recognised.
Finally, organisers want Spotify to end their legal battles to lower royalty rates for songwriters, and pledge not to fight artists, songwriters and other music industry workers.
It follows comments by Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, who controversially said that “you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough,” when quizzed about artists finding the new streaming landscape hard.
You can sign the UMAW’s petition and find out more here.
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