New Penny-Per-Stream Royalty Bill Proposed to Congress

Musicians may soon get a long-awaited raise at the expense of streaming services.

In an effort led by representatives Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman, the United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) have proposed the Living Wage for Musicians Act to Congress. The bill would help ensure that artists are able to build a successful career in the tumultuous age of digital music streaming, according to its authors.

“Streaming has changed the music industry, but it’s leaving countless artists struggling to make ends meet behind,” Tlaib said in a statement. “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.”

It’s important to note that this is an additional royalty on top of artists’ current royalties. The new royalty would be paid directly to artists, bypassing the tortuous, multi-level corporate filter every penny of streaming revenue goes through.

Platform subscription fees and a 10% levy on non-subscription revenue would fund these royalties, ensuring that artists receive a minimum of one penny per stream, a rate that is significantly higher than what streaming services currently pay. The royalties would be paid out through a central fund and would be subject to an eventual cap on the amount of profit per month.

UMAW have also launched a petition in support of the bill, asking for musicians, music professionals, advocacy groups and independent labels to pledge support.

“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,” UMAW organizer and musician Damon Krukowski said in a statement. “The Living Wage for Musicians Act presents a new, artist-centered solution to make streaming work for the many and not just the few. We need to return value to recordings by injecting more money into the system, and we need to pay artists and musicians directly for streaming their work.”

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