Artists and other music industry workers participated in coordinated demonstrations at Spotify offices this week, organized by the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW).
During these protests, the streaming platform Spotify has been asked to increase its transparency when it comes to its business practices as well as end its lawsuits filled against musicians and offer user-centric payment which means paying a cent per stream.
Here is a quick catch up with the chronology of this case. Back in October 2020, UMAW started the Justice at Spotify campaign, which was followed by a petition requiring support for its core principles, which has been signed by 28,000 music workers. Recently, on March 16, protests took place in 10 US cities and dozens of others in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.
Mary Regalado, UMAW organizer, commented on the demonstrations, “Spotify has long mistreated music workers, but the pandemic has put the exploitation into stark relief. The company has tripled in value during the pandemic, while failing to increase its payment rates to artists by even a fraction of a penny“.
She highlighted that “Musicians all over the world are unemployed right now while the tech giants dominating the industry take in billions. Music work is labor, and we are asking to be paid fairly for that labor“.
According to a 2017 Finnish study, it was found out that Spotify uses the following pro rata system: songs from the top 0.4% of the musicians on its platform received 9.9% of all its royalties.
Meanwhile, in response to the findings, Spotify’s economics director stated that switching to a user-centric payment “would inflate Spotify’s administrative costs to the point that it would eliminate any potential revenue gains for less popular artists“.