US Representative Deborah Ross (D-NC) has introduced an updated version of the Protect Musicians Act in an attempt to change the way independent artists bargain with major streaming platforms. Created in collaboration with The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and The Artists Rights Alliance (ARA), the updated bill aims to "level the playing field" for artists in the digital age and the world of AI-generated music.
"This legislation will help give small, independent music creators a level playing field, empowering them to stand together for fairer compensation and giving them a voice in important negotiations that will determine the future of the music industry,” Ross said.
As it stands, current laws leave many artists, whether signed to a major label or independently working, unprotected and at the mercy of major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. And these companies don't always provide fair compensation to artists when their music is uploaded and streamed on the platforms. Independent artists are often forced to accept whenever rates are being offered without being able to collectively negotiate for better terms. Additionally, there is no real protection for artists against having their voice or music manipulated by AI without consent.
If passed, the Protect Working Musicians Act would allow working artists and independent musicians to come together and negotiate with dominant streaming platforms and artificial intelligence developers. It would also grant working artists and independent musicians the ability to collectively refuse to license their music to online music distribution platforms that refuse to pay fair market value.
It could be argued that many artists have always gotten a raw deal for decades when it comes to the sales and distribution of their music. Back in the day of album downloads and CD purchases, this money was usually split in many ways, leaving only a small amount for the artist. Unfortunately, unfair compensation being offered by streaming platforms is just a modern spin on a longstanding problem. And it's not just musicians that are being affected. For years, streaming giants like Netflix have been offering low wages to its writers, which has contributed to the strike of members of the Writers Guild of America.