At a theoretical level, there are plenty of people in the music industry who like the idea of ‘artist-centric’ streaming payouts that will boost the earnings of professional artists and songwriters.

At a practical level, however, there’s a growing murmur of concern – if not outright hostility yet – at the thought of this new model being co-designed with DSPs by a single major label.

Yes, we’re talking Universal Music Group and its recently-announced partnership with Deezer. Believe criticised the plans earlier this week, and now European indies body Impala has put its own concerns on the record.

Like Believe, it approves of some aspects of the UMG/Deezer plan – the ones that match some of its own ten-step plan for reforming the streaming economy. It also likes Deezer’s promise to crack down even harder on streaming fraud. But also like Believe, it’s unsure about ‘double boosts’ for artists who have at least 1,000 monthly streams from at least 500 unique listeners.

Impala’s members are worried about “whether the proposal could lead to a possible two-tier approach impacting the work of independent labels who account for 80% of new releases (including artists patiently awaiting discovery, artists who deliberately cater to niche audiences, artists from smaller territories and newcomers just embarking on their artistic journey), as well as label decisions on which services they choose to deal with,” according to the body.

“The fact that the Deezer proposal has been developed in a vacuum with the market leader instead of the sector generally is also a concern. Unless other stakeholders agree, Impala doesn’t see how it could apply outside of UMG repertoire.”

Separately, Deezer CEO Jeronimo Folgueira has been talking about how the model will work – and defending its double boosts – in an interview with Billboard.

“It was very important that this was something that was good for all artists, not just artists that were signed to a major record label,” he said.

“If an artist doesn’t get to 1,000 streams and 500 listeners a month, they cannot make a living regardless of what the payout of the model is. So you’re not technically a professional. And any up-and-coming artist that is rising up gets to those levels pretty quickly.”

Folgueira also said that while for now the artist-centric agreement is only with UMG, Deezer is talking to “all content providers”. He added that “I expect a big chunk, if not more than half, of our content will be on the new model by the time we launch this on the first of October. And our intention is to roll this out to all providers in all countries in 2024.”

The interview also included some very interesting detail on how Deezer will be calculating its artist-centric royalty pool.  Only 1,000 streams per user per month will count towards that pool.

“So if you listen to 2,000 streams, then your streams will count half. That way, you cannot have one account racking up 10,000 streams and stealing money from the pool,” said Folgueira.

“A normal human will consume anywhere between 400 and 600 tracks per month, so we’ve set the threshold at 1,000. At 1,000, more than 90% of the behaviour is captured and then only the outliers go beyond that…”

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