Support the Living Wage for Musicians Act

The United Musicians and Allied Works (UMAW) has partnered with Congressional representatives Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman to introduce the Living Wage of Musicians Act.

You can read the announcement about the act on Tlaib’s website here, on the UMAW’s site here or dive headfirst into the full text of the bill. The helicopter summary of the initiative is this:

The Living Wage for Musicians Act would create a new streaming royalty, with the aim to compensate artists and musicians more fairly at a penny per stream when their music plays on streaming services. Currently, musicians make tiny fractions of a penny per stream, while streaming has grown to represent 84% of recorded music industry revenue in the U.S. Spotify, the world’s largest streaming service, pays rights-holders an average per-stream royalty of $0.003, which means it takes artists more than 800,000 monthly streams to equal a full-time $15/hour job.

Tlaib Introduces Living Wage for Musicians Act

To achieve the above, you can dig into that full text. They propose a “living wage royalty fee” between $4 and $10 to be applied to streaming service providers such as Spotify, Apple and Google which gets paid by the consumer. Those fees are paid out to a third party service that will then distribute them directly to artists based on the streams they had in the last month. The bill provisions for a cap on the payouts per artist per month to ensure that the largest artists aren’t receiving all of the funds.

Overall, a fairly straightforward proposal that would ultimately result in increased prices for streaming services so that artists can get paid. There’s even a payment calculator on the UMAW site to show what kind of funds a specific artist may make once these monies are collected. It’s not necessarily a sustainable amount (i.e. 1,000 streams would be $10) but it’s an astronomical amount more than what is currently being paid.

There’s plenty of discourse on Reddit and other sites frowning upon this proposal but no one is suggesting any alternatives. DSP’s have been in the critical spotlight for a decade over how little they pay and nothing has changed except they have managed to pay artists less.

Devaluing music is a growing problem and paying artists fairly is a difficult and complicated topic. There’s never going to be a perfect solution but having some solution sounds fantastic.

Please consider showing your support for this proposal by adding your name to the form on the UMAW site and contacting your US Representatives – two actions that the website makes extremely easy to do.


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