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Tlaib, Bowman seek reform of streaming music industry

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U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Jamaal Bowman of New York, founder of the Congressional Hip Hop Task Force, have introduced a bill aiming to create a new streaming royalty for artists.

The Living Wage for Musicians Act, created with help from the United Musicians and Allied Workers and local and national artists, aims to compensate artists and musicians at a penny per stream.

Musicians make fractions of a penny per stream. At the same time, streaming now represents 84% of recorded music industry revenue in the U.S.

Spotify, the world’s largest streaming service, pays rights-holders an average per stream royalty of $0.003, which means it takes artists more than 800,000 monthly streams to equal a full-time $15 per hour job.

“Detroit is one of the music capitals of the world, and our artists here have changed the music industry and our culture in so many incredible ways,” Tlaib said in a statement. “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.”

The lawmakers say streaming services undercompensate artists while digital service providers such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon, and record labels like Universal, Warner and Sony, make more profits than the people who create the music.

The Center Square was unsuccessful by time of publication getting comment from Sony Music and Spotify.

The bill would tax providers’ non-subscription revenues and add a fee to the price of music streaming subscriptions. The goal is for digital service providers to place tax revenues and royalties in a nonprofit collection and distribution fund that would pay artists in proportion to their monthly streams.

“It is unconscionable that in order to buy a cup of coffee, an artist needs someone to stream their song over a thousand times,” Bowman said in a statement. “Artists and musicians across the country deserve to be paid for their work. I represent the Bronx, the birthplace of Hip Hop, where music is the foundation of our communities. They all deserve to be paid fairly for their incredible and transformative art.”

The bill includes a maximum payout per track, per month, to generate more sustainable income for more artists beyond the world’s most popular performers.

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