A Proposed Living Wage For Musicians Act Could Raise Streaming Royalties For Artists

If you took a poll of indie musicians, I think the majority of them would say that streaming royalties are way too low. It always seems so unfair that each stream is only earning a small fraction of a penny, yet many superstars have so many streams that they still make some good money, even after the record label gets its piece. But there may be some good news on the horizon, even if it may be a long shot. A new proposal currently making its way through the U.S. Congress called the Living Wage For Musicians Act could provide a new source of streaming royalties for both artists and session players alike.

Living Wage For Musicians Act

The Living Wage For Musicians Act would supplement artists income from streaming by adding a 50% levy on streaming music subscriptions. Under the proposed Act’s provisions, each streaming service would charge each subscriber “an additional fee in an amount equal to 50% of the subscription fee charged by the service provider, except that such additional fee shall not be an amount less than $4 or more than $10″. 

According to Complete Music Update, “The streaming service would pay the money generated by that levy to a new entity that would be called the Artist Compensation Royalty Fund. The Fund would then make payments directly to performers, with 90% of monies flowing to the main artists on each track, and 10% flowing through to session musicians.”

There’s a lot of suspicion about government entities controlling artist’s money, and we’ve already seen what can happen with that via the MLC controversies lately. But that’s not the biggest worry for the industry.

While this piece of legislation is trying to put more money into artist’s pockets, one wonders if streaming music subscriptions will actually decrease as a result if they’re raised by 50%. That could offset whatever good the Act does. Of course, are record labels going to be good with the money flowing directly to the artists and not through them? That should make for some interesting negotiations.

While well intentioned, this legislation probably doesn’t stand much chance of passing for the simple reason that artists are too far down the food chain when it comes to political power and support. The streaming services such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and even Spotify have much stronger lobbyists, and you know they’ll be out in force against this bill. Still, it’s nice to dream.

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