- 27 Oct 20
The petition comes after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek made claims that there was a "narrative fallacy" in the notion that Spotify does not pay artists enough money to live.
The United Musicians and Allied Workers Union (UMAW) have demanded that all artists receive at least one cent per stream on Spotify, in a petition campaign launched on October 25th.
The petition, called 'Justice at Spotify', has been signed by over 5, 000 artists, including DIIV, Thurston Moore, King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, and Julianna Barwick. Acccording to UMAW's website, one of Spotify’s central goals is to give "a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art".
But, as has been made clear by many artists in the industry, in order to generate a single dollar on the platform, a song needs to be streamed 263 times.
“To put that in perspective, it would take 786 streams to generate enough revenue to buy an average cup of coffee. To pay the median American monthly rent ($1,078) an artist needs to generate 283,684 recurring streams monthly. And to earn $15/hr each month working full time, it would take 657,895 streams per band member,” the campaign website says.
UMAW describe themselves as an organisation that “aims to organize music workers to fight for a more just music industry, and to join with other workers in the struggle for a better society.” They are also pleading that the streaming platform switches to a “user-centric” payment model, instead of its current pro-rata system.
A statement from the union said: “Spotify is the most dominant platform on the music streaming market. The company behind the streaming platform continues to accrue value, yet music workers everywhere see little more than pennies in compensation for the work they make.
“With the entire live music ecosystem in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic, music workers are more reliant on streaming income than ever.”
Organisers are also asking for more transparency when it comes to the operations of the service. They are asking for closed-door contracts to be made public, and that information regarding the platforms revenue services – including its controversial payola practices, in which Spotify encourages label and management companies to pay for streams to boost a song's prominence – be made available.
Lastly, the union is also calling for Spotify to end its legal battles to lower royalties for songwriters. Earlier this year, it was revealed that The Trichordist had collected data breaking down how music payment was distributed among artists across various streaming platforms.
This all comes after Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO faced ridicule from musicians over his comments regarding productivity in the music industry, saying it “wasn’t enough” for artists to “record music once every three to four years.
“It is about putting the work in," he continued, "about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans. I feel, really, that the ones that aren’t doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released.”
Nadine Shah was just one of the musicians who took issue with Ek's comments, writing:
“Millionaire Daniel Ek telling us how it is here. What are we to do? Im tired of having to kiss the arses of these companies that exploit me and other music makers,” tweeted Shah at the time.
“We need the whole music community (including fans) to come together and demand change.”