Musicians descend on Spotify offices around the globe to demand better payment

This week, musicians and other workers in the music industry held demonstrations at global Spotify offices to demand fair pay.

Protests took place in 31 cities across across the globe, including London, Madrid and New York, as part of the Justice at Spotify campaign, organised by the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW). The UMAW first started the campaign last year though this week’s protests were the result of its first co-ordinated day of action.

On 15 March, campaigners turned up at multiple Spotify offices to deliver their demands, which include the introduction of a more transparent pay structure.

The streaming platform has long been criticised for not doing enough to ensure that artists are paid a fair amount. And with many musicians and other music industry workers suffering the economic impact of the last year’s pandemic lockdowns, the issue of fair pay from streaming platforms is receiving renewed scrutiny.

The full list of demands from the UMAW includes the payment of at least one cent per stream to artists and the adoption of a user-centric payment model. The organisation is also demanding an end to lawsuits “intended to further impoverish artists”.

So far, the Justice at Spotify campaign has been backed by more than 27,000 artists. 

“Spotify has long mistreated music workers, but the pandemic has put the exploitation into stark relief,” said UMAW organiser Mary Regaladoa in a statement. “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 labour, and we are asking to be paid fairly for that labour.”

Spotify has been contacted for comment. 

Update – Spotify has released a new website (Loud & Clear) designed to clarify workings to artists. Read it here.