Rep. Tlaib takes on streaming music services, calls for mandatory royalty payments to musicians

Streaming services have become the most popular way for people to listen to music, but musicians are notoriously underpaid

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib. - Shutterstock.com
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U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib has built a reputation fighting for civil rights, climate justice, and universal health care.

Now the Detroit Democrat is using her influence to support musicians.

Tlaib plans to introduce a bill that would create a new mandatory streaming royalty that would be paid directly to musicians.

The resolution calls on the federal government to “establish a new statutory royalty program” and argues that the government has an obligation “to provide musicians, whose recorded work is listened to on streaming music services, like Spotify, reasonable remuneration through a royalty payment earned on a per-stream basis.”

Streaming services have become the most popular way for people to listen to music, but musicians are notoriously underpaid, making it difficult to earn decent money with their art, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to perform live .

On average, musicians receive less than a penny per stream, while streaming music services like Spotify are posting record profits, according to the resolution.

The Copyright Royalty Board and SoundExchange would oversee the royalty program.

Tlaib circulated a letter to her colleagues urging them to take action.

“While the music industry has experienced an economic revival with the success of streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music, the current lack of regulation or codified streaming music royalty program has driven a race to the bottom,” Tlaib wrote. “Streaming music platforms’ payouts per stream are minuscule, and declining each year — leaving working musicians with little of the income generated by these platforms.”

The Union of Musician And Allied Workers worked with Tlaib on the resolution.

“Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and others have sent music industry profits skyrocketing, but working musicians aren’t seeing any of that money,” UMAW organizer Joey La Neve DeFrancesco said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s time that we get our fair share.”

The union is calling on musicians, music workers and fans to urge their representatives to support the resolution.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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