Living Wage for Musicians Act put to US Congress would compensate artists at a penny per stream

Currently, Spotify pays rights-holders an average per-stream royalty of $0.003.

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A glass jar showing silver coins an a bank note poking out of it. Blurred in the background, there is an acoustic guitar.

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A Living Wage for Musicians Act has been put before US Congress which would introduce a new streaming royalty model. The act, introduced by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Congressman Jamaal Bowman, would pay artists by at least a penny per stream.

The legislation was created in partnership with United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) and local and national artists “who have been directly impacted by the lack of oversight in the music industry”.

Spotify, for example, pays the rights-holders of the music on its platform at an average rate of $0.003 per stream. As outlined on Tlaib’s webpage (via Mixmag), this means that it takes artists more than 800,000 monthly streams to equal the earnings of a full-time $15 per hour job.

The Act would mean music providers would be taxed on non-subscription revenues and a small fee would be added to the price of music streaming subscriptions. Platforms such as Spotify would pass their taxed revenues and royalties to a non-profit collection and distribution fund, that would in turn “pay artists in proportion to their monthly streams”. The bill also includes a maximum payout per track, per month.

Tlaib comments that “It’s only right that the people who create the music we love get their fair share, so that they can thrive, not just survive.”

Bowman adds, “Streaming services wouldn’t exist without the brilliant work of artists who choose to share their music with these platforms. Streaming services make billions of dollars a year off the hard work of musicians, but those creators make less than a penny every time we stream their songs. It is unconscionable that in order to buy a cup of coffee, an artist needs someone to stream their song over a thousand times.

“Artists and musicians across the country deserve to be paid for their work. I represent the Bronx, the birthplace of Hip Hop, where music is the foundation of our communities.”

Read the full bill.


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