Musicians, organized by the Union Of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), yesterday, March 15, staged a protest outside of 31 Spotify offices around the world demanding better pay from the streaming service. The protests are designed to bring attention to the “Justice At Spotify” initiative, which asks for one cent per stream, end of payola, crediting all labor in recordings, a user-centric payment model, more transparent contracts and an end to Spotify’s legal battles against artists.
“Spotify has long mistreated music workers, but the pandemic has put the exploitation into stark relief,” said UMAW organizer Mary Regalado 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 labor, and we are asking to be paid fairly for that labor.”
Many of the items demanded could be done by Spotify, like dropping its part in the lawsuit against the Copyright Royalty Board to raise royalty rates by 44% for songwriters. Amazon, Google and Pandora also opposed the rise, while Apple Music declined to appeal the decision.
Spotify has suggested in the past that a user-centric payment model could be too costly for them to implement, but we will see how things go with SoundCloud. Transparency and one cent per streaming rate would likely need negotiations with major labels, who also benefit from opaque contracts. The current rate of $0.0038 per stream for some artists would require over 650 thousand streams a month to earn $15 per hour.
So far the Justice At Spotify campaign has been signed by nearly 28,000 artists.