The United Musicians and Allied Workers Unions launch ‘Justice at Spotify’ campaign
The United Musicians and Allied Workers Union have launched a campaign against Spotify. Dubbed ‘Justice at Spotify’, the campaign outlines a number of demands including raising the streaming royalty to one cent per stream, adopting a user-centric payment model and transparency on all closed-door contracts.
“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,” the campaigns mission statement reads.
“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.”
UMAW is demanding that artists be paid 1 cent per stream — almost triple what they’re being paid now at $.0038 USD per stream. Consequence of Sound crunched the numbers and this payout would likely be unsustainable for the streaming monolith.
Spotify made $7.3 billion in revenue in 2019, with a gross profit of only $1.8 billion. The majority of the $5.5 billion difference was split between labels and artists.
A 1 cent per stream demand may be infeasible — but Spotify is still playing artist’s significantly less than competitors. With Apple Music paying around $.00675 per stream.
“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,” the statement continues.
“With the entire live music ecosystem in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic, music workers are more reliant on streaming income than ever.”
Justice at Spotify is also demanding Spotify be more transparent with their finances and their behind-closed-doors relationships with major record labels.
“Major record labels own a huge percentage of Spotify’s catalog,” the demand read. “With their leverage they are able to dictate the terms of their own streaming royalties and negotiate their own complex payment structures. It also gives them preferential treatment when it comes to editorial and algorithmic playlisting, something that all artists depend on.
“We are calling on Spotify to be more transparent with their finances, their platform, and their relationships with artists. Make all deals with major labels public, and to end practices that resemble payola.”
UMAW also request that the platform gives proper credit all engineers, musicians and labourers that work on recordings.
The campaigns final request is that Spotify stop fighting artists. The statement cites the controversial Music Ally interview with CEO Daniel Ek. That saw Ek that in the current music consumption landscape, artists need to consider more consistent commitment to their output than in the past.
“You can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough,” he said at the time.
“It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.
“I feel, really, that the ones that aren’t doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released.”
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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. With the entire live music ecosystem in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic, music workers are more reliant on streaming income than ever. We are calling on Spotify to deliver increased royalty payments to at least one cent per stream, adopt a user-centric payment model, show transparency in their practices by making all closed-door contracts public, reveal existing payola & end it all together, credit all labor in recordings and to end all legal battles intended to further impoverish artists. Sign onto our demands at unionofmusicians.org/justice-at-spotify ?
A number of artists have gotten behind the campaign including Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, Zola Jesus, Alex Somers, Ted Leo Deerhoof, Jay Som, Lady Lamb, Illuminati Hotties, Eve 6, WHY?, Sad13, Tanya Donelly, Sheer Mag and more.
To sign the petition, and to find out more head here.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.