Rashida Tlaib Calls for Congress to Create a New Streaming Royalty

The Michigan congresswoman is working with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers to advocate for royalty reform

Jul 26, 2022
In the News

Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, has announced that she will be proposing a Congressional Resolution to establish a new streaming royalty, according to Rolling Stone. The congresswoman sent a letter to her colleagues announcing the upcoming proposal, which aims to improve the economic circumstances that working musicians face throughout the United States.

“While the music industry has experienced an economic revival with the success of streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music, the current lack of regulation or codified streaming music royalty program has driven a race to the bottom,” Tlaib wrote in her letter, according to a press release. “Streaming music platforms’ payouts per stream are minuscule, and declining each year—leaving working musicians with little of the income generated by these platforms.”

The letter is the result of Tlaib’s work with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, a nonprofit organization 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.”

“When we met [with UMAW] it was really clear how efforts to pay musicians fairly for their work tied in to so many different threads of justice we were already working on,” Tlaib wrote in an email to Rolling Stone. “This is a step in the direction of creating a streaming royalty that pays musicians fairly for their labor.”

UMAW’s Joey La Neve DeFrancesco added in a statement, “UMAW has been working toward legislation for over two years. Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and others have sent music industry profits skyrocketing, but working musicians aren’t seeing any of that money. It’s time that we get our fair share.”

In October 2020, UMAW launched the “Justice at Spotify” campaign, which advocated for a per-stream royalty rate of at least one cent, among other reforms. In March 2021, they organized protests in more than 30 cities around the world, calling for increased transparency from Spotify regarding their business practices, an end to lawsuits against artists, and more.

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