SoundExchange CEO Mike Huppe’s advocacy for bringing fairness to streaming royalties.@MikeHuppe: Should Streaming Services Change How Artists Are Paid? — Artist Rights Watch–News for the Artist Rights Advocacy Community
Over the last decade, we’ve seen the size of the music revenue pie grow significantly as the popularity of streaming services has skyrocketed. Today, streaming accounts for 84% of U.S. recorded music revenue. Over 90 million people in the U.S. subscribe to one or more music streaming services for the price of a few cups of coffee a month. And global revenue from music streaming, both paid and ad-supported, is predicted to grow to $90 billion by 2030.
Yet, since the inception of music streaming, a core question remains unanswered: How should these streaming services pay music creators? How do we slice up the revenue pie? It’s a question of fairness with no easy answer.
Pro Rata Model Vs. User-Centric Model
Currently, the primary model for the distribution of digital royalties is the “pro rata model.” Under this approach, all music usage and royalty payments are aggregated across the platform. In other words, listeners’ subscription fees pour into a single pot of money, which is then divided (pro rata) across the billions of streams every month on the service. The percentage that creators are paid is proportional to their number of streams across the overall platform.
As an alternative, some services are starting to experiment with a new “user-centric” or “fan-centric” model whereby a particular person’s subscription dollars are divided up only among the artists to whom they specifically listen. None of your subscription payment goes to artists that you don’t stream. And there are other variations on this individual-focused approach (such as the “ethical pool” or the “creator support” models).