Musicians Hold Worldwide Protests Outside Spotify Offices

The protests call on Spotify to increase artist royalty payments to one cent per stream

spotify protests union of musicians and allied workers offices global worldwide
Image courtesy of the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers
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The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers organized worldwide protests outside Spotify’s offices on Monday as the latest salvo in the ongoing “Justice at Spotify” campaign.

The peaceful demonstrations took place across 31 cities around the globe, with artists and other industry professionals gathering in the US and Canada, South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. “Spotify operates internationally, so if music workers are going to demand more, we need to organize internationally, too,” UMAW organizer Zack Nestel-Patt said in a statement. “Spotify is threatening musicians’ livelihoods everywhere, and it’s way past time that we stand up together to demand more.”

The protests are meant to draw attention to the “Justice at Spotify” list of demands, which includes paying artists one cent per stream (Spotify currently pays some artists as little as $0.0038 per stream, which is among the lowest rates of any platform), plus transparent contracts, a more user-centric payment model, an end to payola, a switch to crediting all labor in recordings, and an end to legal battles against artists which serve to “further impoverish artists.”

“Spotify has long mistreated music workers, but the pandemic has put the exploitation into stark relief,” said UMAW organizer Mary Regalado. “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. 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.”

Since the “Justice at Spotify” campaign launched in October, the Big Green Circle has actually moved away from the movement’s demands, rolling out a new kind of payola in November by offering to boost artists’ algorithm placement in exchange for reduced royalties. The company also recently secured a disturbing patent to monitor its users’ speech, and announced a new high-fidelity tier and expansion into 80 new markets.

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