Spotify’s neglect towards its musicians has spawned international backlash, with artists and music-lovers now calling for royalties to meet the minimum wage.
Just weeks after Spotify’s controversial decision to offer artists increased exposure in return for reduced royalties, it seems that ammunition against the streaming service has never been higher.
In light of ongoing backlash against the corporation, The United Musicians and Allied Workers Union launched the Justice at Spotify campaign, aiming to increase the platform’s royalty payouts to a liveable wage. At the time of writing, the campaign had gained over 19,000 signatures from artists across the globe, including King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Sheer Mag, Tanya Donelly and many more.
The Justice at Spotify campaign is calling for artists to be paid at least one cent per stream, in comparison to the measly $0.00437 per stream that Spotify are currently paying out. Back in 2019, The Music Network reported that an artist would have to be streamed 380,000 times per month on Spotify to earn a minimum Australian wage. Raising streaming royalties would ultimately give artists a fighting chance to live off their artists a full-time career.
Here’s @Spotify’s new tone-deaf ad campaign. Keep in mind that it takes 380,000 streams a month on @Spotify for an artist to earn minimum wage. Meanwhile, the average @Spotify employee earns $14,000 a month. Nobody’s paying? We musicians are, with our lives. #IRespectMusic pic.twitter.com/mroqQNGxLJ
— Blake Morgan (@TheBlakeMorgan) July 9, 2019
The Union also asked for Spotify to make all closed-door contracts public, meaning that algorithmic playlisting and editorial would be a completely transparent process to avoid preferential treatment.
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The backlash against Spotify’s royalty-reducing feature was just the tipping point in a long line of power-hungry moves by the world’s largest streaming service. The UK Government even brought forward their own request through the Keep Music Alive Campaign, with over 30,000 musicians demanding for the platform to financially assist artists during COVID-19.
Spotify is not without problems of its own, however. Head of Global Financial Planning and Analysis and Investor Relations, Paul Vogel, argued to press that “lower royalty rates are critical to Spotify’s future”. Out of Spotify’s $7.3 billion annual revenue, it is estimated that 70% is returned to shareholders, meaning that an increase in artists’ royalties could be financially unattainable for the business. Nonetheless, Spotify are still some of the worst offenders in the music industry when it comes to streaming payouts. A report from April of this year makes that very clear:
Terrifying. The most up-to-date streaming rates adapted for £ and for UK minimum wage. Data from the excellent
@thetrichordist. #BrokenRecord pic.twitter.com/XOoZ3IGisT
— Tom Gray #BrokenRecord (@MrTomGray) April 18, 2020
For now, it looks like we will have to support our beloved musicians and bands in other ways. Buying merch, paying for songs and albums, as well as getting on board live streams are all great ways to support our favourite artists until Spotify finally coughs up their end of the bargain.