A revisited version of the Protect Working Musicians Act, which was first introduced in 2021, could allow independent artists in the US to negotiate “fairer rates” with major streaming platforms, Billboard reports.
The congressional bill has been updated by Rep. Deborah Ross of North Carolina - but is yet to pass the US House. If it does, artists could be given the chance to collectively bargain with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music for better royalty rates.
The bill also takes a look at AI-generated music and its effect on artists. “AI threatens the creator — finding the person or entity that has co-opted your work and turned it into something else and then going after them is so onerous,” Rep. Deborah Ross told Billboard.
“That’s one of the reasons for this bill — to allow people to do this collaboratively. We need to do this sooner than later. We’re seeing this threat every single day.”
The bill's focus on AI-mimicking follows a recent explosion in ‘deepfaked’ songs, such as the recent AI-generated track ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ which clones the voices of The Weeknd and Drake. Streaming service Deezer is now making efforts to ‘detect and delete’ tracks that mimic artist’s voices and likeness.
The revised iteration of the Protect Working Musicians Act will also help artists land fairer rates through streaming services, as they currently risk violating antitrust laws if they attempt to negotiate.
“This bill will protect NC's outstanding artists who play a vital role in our state's culture & economy,” Ross explained in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
Today, I introduced the Protect Working Musicians Act to allow small artists & music creators to negotiate with streaming platforms & AI developers for fair compensation.— Congresswoman Deborah Ross (@RepDeborahRoss) September 19, 2023
This bill will protect NC's outstanding artists who play a vital role in our state's culture & economy. pic.twitter.com/CiQTBHtl3q
According to a Ditto report earlier this year, Spotify pays artists just $0.003 - $0.005 per stream. The streaming giant takes 30% of the revenue split.
In March, Spotify came under fire for cutting royalty payments when artists opt in for its Discovery Mode feature in exchange for the exposure that they gain through its algorithm on the feed. Artists are also now being encouraged to pay to feature on Spotify’s home page.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter