Living Wage for Musicians bill aims to increase streaming royalties for artists

A new bill aiming to increase streaming royalties to artists has been introduced to the United States Congress.

Put forward by House Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman, the Living Wage for Musicians Act would involve the creation of a new payment system, dubbed the Artist Compensation Royalty Fund, that that evades record labels and other entities, and pushes listeners' money directly towards artists.

"Streaming has changed the music industry, but it's leaving countless artists struggling to make ends meet behind," Tlaib said in a statement. "It's only right that the people who create the music we love get their fair share, so that they can thrive, not just survive."

Funds for these new measures would come from two sources under the Act: an added subscription fee (proposed as somewhere between $4 and $10) and a 10% cut of streamers' non-subscription revenue, from advertisements for example.

Tlaib and Bowman have put forward the bill with the support of the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW). Noting that streaming platforms are already planning increases to subscription fees for their services, the union and its supporters feel it's important to put forward a proposal that ensures extra fees go to musicians themselves.

UMAW's Damon Krukowski said in a statement: "There is a lot of talk in the industry about how to 'fix' streaming – but the streaming platforms and major labels have already had their say for more than a decade, and they have failed musicians.

"The Living Wage for Musicians Act presents a new, artist-centred solution to make streaming work for the many and not just the few. We need to return value to recordings by injecting more money into the system, and we need to pay artists and musicians directly for streaming their work."

It's not yet known how much support the bill will gain as it enters the early stages of being brought before the US Congress.

BPI recently reported that streaming now makes up 87.7% of all music consumption in the UK. The data, published as part of their official end-of-year report, found that there were 179.6 billion streams in the UK last year, which has doubled since 2018. 

Back in January, it was announced that Musicians in the UK are to be offered protections and “transparency” around streaming royalties under a new code.