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New bill aiming to give artists "at least" 1 cent per stream put before US congress

The Living Wage for Musicians Act would see artists receive a "fair share" of streaming royalties as part of the Artist Compensation Royalty Fund

  • 13 March 2024
New bill aiming to give artists "at least" 1 cent per stream put before US congress

A new bill aiming to increase royalties paid to artists for streams of their music has been brought before the US Congress.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Congressman Jamaal Bowman introduced the Living Wage for Musicians Act during a press conference on Wednesday (March 6) at the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan.

The bill was developed with the United Musicians and Allied Workers Union (UMAW) and aims to boost streaming royalties by ensuring artists are paid a minimum of "one cent per stream" — acting as a "minimum wage" for musicians.

Calling for economic justice and fairness in streaming, the bill advocates several changes to protect artists who have been "directly impacted by a lack of oversight in the music industry."

"The Living Wage for Musicians Act benefits ALL musicians, not just the top percent of artists,' writes the UMAW

The "minimum wage" would come from the establishment of an Artist Compensation Royalty Fund, which Rolling Stone reports would be similar to the model utilised by SoundExchange for radio-play royalties. A press release explains: "It would be funded through platform subscription fees and a 10% levy on non-subscription revenue".

The fund would act as a separate payment for artists, outside of existing payments that include label and distribution contributions — and would see payments capped when an individual track reaches 1 million streams.

Any royalties earned for the Artist Compensation Royalty Fund on a track which surpasses 1 million streams would then be redistributed from among all recording musicians, reports Rolling Stone.

Other details revealed by Rolling Stone include that the fund would be paid for by the users of streaming services, as an added cost to subscription fees. The bill estimates this would be around "50% of the subscription cost" and between "$4-$10".

According to a report by Consequence of Sound, Spotify currently pays artists around $0.003-$0.005 per stream, which means for artists to earn around "$15 an hour" they must exceed 800,000 monthly streams.

Pointing to inequality in the streaming industry, Congresswoman Tlaib said "Streaming has changed the music industry, but it's leaving countless artists struggling to make ends meet behind".

“There is a lot of talk in the industry about how to ‘fix’ streaming – but the streaming platforms and major labels have already had their say for more than a decade, and they have failed musicians,” said UMAW organizer and musician Damon Krukowski.

In 2024, digital streaming was found to make up 85% of music consumption in the UK according to the BPI, yet artists continually point to economic inequality in the streaming industry.

In January, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to implement a new legal framework to ensure streaming platforms pay musicians more fairly.

Suspecting changes proposed by the Living Wage for Musicians Act may not be supported by streaming services, Billboard points to Spotify's reluctance to raise subscription fees in the past.

The new bill will also require 10% of non-subscription revenue, including advertising revenue, to be paid towards the fund.

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