Musicians and music workers hold protests at Spotify’s offices around the globe

They called on the streaming giant for better streaming payouts, transparent business practices and more.

UMAW Spotify Protest

A musician holds a banner saying “1cent for stream” in front of Spotify’s headquarters in Madrid, Spain / Alberto Ortega / Europa Press via Getty

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Musicians and music workers have taken part in protests at Spotify’s offices around the globe, calling for increased streaming payouts and more transparent business practices.

The demonstrations, organised by the Union Of Musicians And Allied Music Workers (UMAW), took place yesterday (15 March) in 31 cities in Australia, Europe, Asia, and Central and South America. Spotify’s offices in New York, Los Angeles, Madrid and London were among those affected. The event marks the first time a coordinated in-person action against Spotify has taken place.

“Spotify has long mistreated music workers, but the pandemic has put the exploitation into stark relief,” said UMAW organiser Mary Regaladoa in a statement. “The company has tripled in value during the pandemic, while failing to increase its payment rates to artists by even a fraction of a penny. Musicians all over the world are unemployed right now while the tech giants dominating the industry take in billions.”

“Music work is labour, and we are asking to be paid fairly for that labour,” she added.

UMAW considered the demonstrations “an escalation” of its Justice At Spotify campaign from last year, which was signed by over 27,000 music workers.

The statement continued: “The campaign calls for at least one cent per stream, the adoption of a user-centric streaming model, the crediting of all labour on recordings, the end of payola, the end of Spotify’s anti-artist legal battles, and increased transparency over the company’s payments, algorithms, and data-collection systems.”

“Spotify currently pays some $0.0038 per stream – among the lowest rates of any streaming company – operates entirely behind closed doors, and has sued songwriters to lower royalty rates,” UMAW added.

In February this year, Spotify announced major expansion plans. It has its sights set on 80 new markets, including South Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria.

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