Music Business

US Rep. Deborah Ross joins fight for fair streaming rights for artists

US Rep. Deborah Ross joins the Break the Business podcast to discuss her legislation to help working musicians level the playing field against streaming services.

by Graham Pierce

US Representative Deborah Ross (D-NC) recently joined the Break the Business SiriusXM radio program to discuss her new legislation, the Protect Working Musicians Act.

The legislation would update existing antitrust laws to empower independent artists to collectively negotiate with streaming services and AI platforms that want to use artists’ music.

While similar legislation has failed to advance in previous Congresses, Representative Ross noted in the interview that her bill will hopefully find more support due to changing public perceptions caused by the WGA and SAG strikes, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise of AI platforms:

I do see the interest in artist rights and labor rights being a reason why the public at large would be more interested in this. I also think the pandemic made this a bigger issue because a lot of artists didn’t see any reason to fight it if they could go on tour. But during the pandemic, people became a lot more reliant on what they could sell to streaming services (…), and they didn’t have the income that they got from doing live shows. That’s what I heard from artists. And I think the third thing that people are aware of is this new piece that has to do with AI (…) And so I think those three things have come together to make artists more aware of their rights and the public and legislators more aware of their rights.

Conversations around protecting creative professionals and their intellectual property rights have been significant over the past year as artists and policymakers have become weary of the market power of streaming platforms and the advancement of artificial intelligence. By enabling collective negotiation, the Protect Working Musicians Act hopes to shift the balance of power away from these entities and to help independent artists to voice their concerns and fight for fair compensation.

“It’s in the Constitution to reward science and the useful arts,” Representative Ross stated in the interview. “It’s a foundation of this country that we lift up, celebrate, and compensate innovators and artists.”

Graham Pierce is a recent graduate of the Media Studies B.A. Program at Santa Clara University.

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