The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers has created the “Justice at Spotify” campaign to push for radical changes to the streamer’s business model. The group of musicians, DJs, producers, road crew, and others aims to “collectively take resources and power from the few wealthy companies that dictate our industry.” So far, the petition has garnered over 6,750 signatures from industry workers.
The UMAW collective lists a number of demands for Spotify. The group wants a per-stream royalty rate of at least one cent, with payment sent through a user-centric payment model; more transparency in closed-door contracts and label deals; removing “payola,” or pay-to-play schemes used for the streamer’s curated playlists; credit for everyone involved in recordings; and terminating legal battles aimed at artists.
At the moment, the company doesn’t pay royalties through a per-stream model; it currently uses a pro-rata system that gathers the generated money and divvies it up between artists depending on their total number of streams. Shifting to a user-centric model would mean rights holders get paid directly and on a per-stream basis. Spotify’s largest rights holders—Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group—would have to sign off on this move. These record companies use the rights to their huge catalogs to guarantee monthly advances from Spotify, secret negotiations that divide the royalty pool before an independent label or artist has the chance to stream a song.
The UMAW also issued a statement that said it’s preparing to hand over its demands to Spotify’s offices in person “via a socially distanced delivery,” and will “escalate” the initiative if its demands aren’t answered.