rep tlaib

This morning, we reported on the latest streaming economics story in the UK: regulator the CMA’s decision not to refer a full market investigation of the music industry.

Now attention is jumping back across the Atlantic to the US, where a prominent politician has announced plans to push for the creation of a new streaming royalty to be paid directly to artists.

Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib is the politician, and she has sent a letter to Congress outlining her plans, as well as the problems she sees in the streaming market.

“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,” wrote Tlaib in the letter.

“Streaming music platforms’ payouts per stream are miniscule, and declining each year — leaving working musicians with little of the income generated by these platforms.”

What exactly is Tlaib going to propose to fix this? She has been working with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) – the body behind the Justice at Spotify protest campaign in the US – on that.

According to UMAW, Tlaib’s proposal for a direct streaming royalty is similar to what already happens for music played on satellite radio stations in the US, with the royalties collected and paid out by SoundExchange.

“UMAW has been working toward this legislation for over two years,” said union organiser Joey La Neve DeFrancesco in a statement. “Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and others have sent music industry profits skyrocketing, but working musicians aren’t seeing any of that money. It’s time that we get our fair share.”

UMAW is now kicking off a campaign to encourage people to write to their representatives and ask them to co-sponsor Tlaib’s bill, describing it as “a substantial grassroots effort that could make a permanent change to the music industry, leveling the playing field for the benefit of musicians”.

We’ll bring you any response from the streaming services (likely from their representative body DiMA rather than individually) and from labels (presumably through their body the RIAA) – if and when we get it.

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