4000+ Musicians Back ‘Justify At Spotify’ Campaign, Demanding Increased Payments, Transparency
More than 4000 have signed a Union of Musicians and Allied Workers petition demanding a radical change in how Spotify calculates and pays royalties.
Increased including royalty rate to one cent per stream payments is a central demand in the “Justify At Spotify” campaign.
The full text:
Music workers create all of the enormous wealth Spotify accumulates for its CEO, its investors, and the major labels. But we artists continue to be underpaid, misled, and otherwise exploited by the company. As Spotify’s valuation soars, we have seen no increase in our streaming payments. The company’s closed-door contracts and payola schemes ensure that only musicians already on top with extensive resources can succeed on the platform. As COVID 19 economically devastates music workers everywhere, it’s even clearer that Spotify’s existing model is counter to the needs of the vast majority of artists.
Enough is enough. We as music workers demand the following changes to Spotify:
1) Pay Us
a. Pay all artists at least one cent per song stream (or the equivalent in local currency)
Spotify makes enormous profit across its platform via user fees, capital investment, data collection, and more. The company must begin paying artists/rights-holders at minimum one cent per stream. Many claim that such wages are not compatible with Spotify’s current economic system. Our demand is that this model be adjusted so that artists can be paid fairly. If Spotify’s model can’t pay artists fairly, it shouldn’t exist.
b. Adopt a user-centric payment model
Spotify currently pays artists using a “pro-rata” model, in which all revenue is pooled, then distributed to artists according to a complex scheme. The pro-rata model means that as artists on the top of the pyramid accumulate a greater percentage of streams, all other artists receive increasingly tiny payments. This model puts artists in competition with each other. We demand the adoption of a “user centric” model which pays artists directly according to the number of streams they receive.
2) Be Transparent
a. Make all closed-door contracts public
Spotify intentionally operates in secrecy. The platform signs closed-door contracts with record labels, distributors, and management companies for payments, playlist placements, and more. We demand that these contracts be open and publicly disclosed.
b. Show us where your money comes from
Artists deserve to know how a platform built on their work is operating. Spotify does not just accumulate wealth through user subscriptions, but through advertising, capital investment, data collection, and more. Open the books and declare all sources of income.
c. Reveal existing payola, then end it altogether
Spotify encourages labels and management companies to pay for plays on the platform. In many cases, the artists don’t even know this is happening. The practice amounts to payola, and it is unacceptable and must be stopped. Spotify should not be in the businesses of selling artists access to their own fanbase. Spotify must publicly reveal where existing payola is occurring, and then stop systems of paid access that make an already unequal platform even more imbalanced.
d. Credit all labor in recordings
Spotify should honor all the labor involved in making recordings. We demand full credits listed for every work on Spotify, on both desktop and mobile platforms, and that Spotify enable search by every name so that every musician, producer, audio engineer, mastering engineer and all others involved in the work of recordings are recognized for their labor.
3) Stop Fighting Artists
a. End legal battles intended to further impoverish artists
Spotify continues to fight in court to lower royalty rates for songwriters. We demand that Spotify ends these battles, and pledges not to fight artists, songwriters, and other music workers in the future. Spotify should be fighting for the artists who built it, instead of further undercutting our economic well-being.