UMAW & Rep. Rashida Tlaib Introduce New Bill to ‘Fix Streaming Royalties’

UMAQ Rashida Tlaib introduce bill to fix streaming royalties
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UMAQ Rashida Tlaib introduce bill to fix streaming royalties
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Photo Credit: UMAW

United Musicians and Allied Workers, alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib, have introduced new legislation to help fix streaming royalties: ‘The Living Wage for Musicians Act.’

The United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) are celebrating the introduction of the Living Wage for Musicians Act, led by Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman, to Congress. The bill, shared with Digital Music News on Wednesday (March 6th), would create a new streaming royalty and help ensure that artists and musicians can build sustainable careers in the age of streaming.

The Living Wage for Musicians Act would create a new streaming royalty paid directly to artists, bypassing the powerful players in the industry like labels, publishers, and others. According to language from both UMAW and Talib, those companies’ primary interest resides in market share and corporate profits instead of artist welfare.

The new royalty would be an additional revenue stream on top of artists’ existing royalties, though the mathematics behind this subsidy could get complicated.

That royalty would be funded through platform subscription fees and a 10% levy on non-subscription revenue, and is designed to ensure that artists receive a minimum of one penny per stream — an amount calculated to provide a working class artist a living wage from streaming. The royalty would be paid out proportionally from a central fund, with a cap placed on how much an individual track can earn, to ensure a more equitable distribution of payments.

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

UMAW has launched a petition to support the bill, and is calling for all musicians, music workers, musician advocacy groups, and independent labels to sign their 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,” said UMAW organizer and musician Damon Krukowski.

“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.”

“Our middle class musicians are disappearing, our recording studios are disappearing, and this all leads to our music communities and music culture deteriorating rapidly across the country. The more we allow a handful of very wealthy power players to monopolize and find ways to shrink the pool of income musicians make from streaming, the more we will continue to destroy our music scenes,” adds mixing and mastering engineer Heba Kadry.

“I’m very grateful for Rashida’s work to bring overdue changes to the music industry that restore equity and a sense of value for musicians all over,” concluded Detroit artist Shigeto.

“Artists have been taken advantage of since the inception of digital streaming. The Living Wage for Musicians Act gives voice to independent musicians and could change a lot of artists’ lives by giving them a sustainable revenue stream.”