While having access to a plethora of music at our fingertips is an incredible service to fans throughout the world; this new age of music consumption keeping up with our ever advancing technology – we may see it as a step forward for both ourselves, and the amazing musicians who share their music with us – however, when it comes to streaming, musicians are unfortunately receiving the short end of the stick.
We would think that music streaming services would place high emphasis on treating the artists who are the literal foundation for their platform with respect, and fair royalties. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and unfortunately the majority of these platforms aren’t interested in changing these policies to provide musicians with fair and concise remuneration.
In 2018, The Copyright Royalty Board in the United States called for a 44% increase in royalties for musicians using streaming platforms over a period of four years, with the decision ultimately approved by the Register of Copyrights in February 2019. Although approved, the streaming giants have had the opportunity to appeal the ruling; which indeed they have. The opposition has been fronted by four major streaming services: Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google have filed an appeal and continue to protest against the raise in royalties for the musicians.
Despite being all being a part of the Digital Media Association – Apple, unlike the others, hasn’t opposed the ruling, referring to it as “a healthy change for songwriter and publisher royalty structures.” which is a relevant response for the pay to listen streaming service. Sadly, the latter four companies do not see it the same way.
The president of the Digital Media Association, David Israelite, has responded to these appeals:
“Instead of accepting the CRB’s decision which still values songs less than their fair market value, Spotify and Amazon have declared war on the songwriting community by appealing that decision.”
On the 14th of August, the four streaming giants filed a staggering 92 page appeal against the rate increase, with a main focus on the rate increase hurting the companies financial growth. While not surprising, the focus on financial growth for the companies as opposed to fair royalty rates for the musicians is disappointing at the least; showing a lack of care for the musicians who can barely earn the equivalent of minimum wage with current royalty rates on these platforms.
Artists receive an estimated $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream on Spotify, with musicians earning around $3.80 per 1,000 streams: showing a huge disparity between global mainstream superstars who can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, as opposed to everyone else – yet an increase in royalties seems to be too unreasonable for platforms such as these.