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US News Berlin streaming service: How Soundcloud wants artists to share their income more fairly

02:57  06 march  2021
02:57  06 march  2021 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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A new concept for the Soundcloud streaming service is supposed to reward artists better. Many musicians have long called for "user-centered billing models".

Überfällig. Viele Künstlerinnen und Künstler fordern seit einiger Zeit nutzerzentrierte Abrechnungsmodelle. © Igor Golovniov / Imago Overdue. For some time now, many artists have been calling for user-centered accounting models.

The Berlin music platform Soundcloud was founded in 2007 as "Youtube for Audio" and is still an important stepping stone for young artists to this day. Millennial superstar Billie Eilish, for example, started her career on Soundcloud. In order to improve the financial situation of the younger generation, the platform is now changing its remuneration model for some of the artists.

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The subscription or advertising income of a listener is to be distributed directly to the musicians that the respective user has heard during the month. "Many in the industry have wanted this change for years," says Michael Weissman, who took over as head of Soundcloud at the beginning of the year.

In fact, many artists have been calling for such " user-centered accounting models " for some time. Some of them have joined forces in the “Fair Share” initiative, which includes the managers of Sarah Connor, Herbert Grönemeyer, Helene Fischer and Peter Maffay. A year ago they campaigned for it with a fire letter, but were unable to enforce this demand at a meeting with the record companies.

Pro-rata models have dominated

so far. "There is a lot to suggest that a user-based billing model would be fairer, more transparent, artist and customer-friendly," said Mark Chung, for example, former bassist for Berlin's industrial icons Einstürzende Neubauten and now chairman of the association Music entrepreneurs (VUT).

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So far, in the so-called pro rata model , all income is bundled and paid out according to the number of streams. However, this means that even a small number of power users strongly distort the statistics. Assuming that one user listens to the new Grönemeyer album once a month, while another listens to the rapper Apache 207 99 times. Then both of them pay ten euros a month, but Grönemeyer only receives a hundredth of the artist's share.

The French streaming service Deezer has also been promoting a change to the user-centered model since 2019.

It will take some time before it is introduced.

There are repeated reports that streaming numbers are being manipulated by purchased accounts, automated calls and continuous loops. It was only at the end of January that the Frankfurt Regional Court prohibited the provider Likeservice24 from selling plays as a service in an urgent procedure. In the previous year, a number of other manipulation services had been decided in five other proceedings in different courts.

It will take some time until new billing models make this more difficult. Deezer has not been able to start the test of the User-Centric Payment System (UCPS) planned in Germany and France because the big music labels as rights holders do not agree. And the conversion from Soundcloud as a first experiment is therefore “only” valid for the around 100,000 independent artists on the platform.

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