In the wake of Spotify’s controversial transition to a new royalty model, it begs the question of when artists will finally receive fair compensation from these streaming services. Many call for a user-centric model to take the place of the current per-stream model that Spotify has used since its inception. As an artist directly affected by the changes made by the streaming juggernaut, rapper AKABURNZYY offered his thoughts on the matter. With testimony from the inside, consumers are offered insight into the unjust system set in place for artists today. 

Spotify has long used an outdated per-stream royalty model, which has caused an approach shift in the approach to making money as an artist. All of the revenue generated from ads and subscriptions to Spotify’s service is distributed at an even rate to all artists on the platform based on the number of streams they earn in the month. By compensating artists through this model, each artist sees roughly 0.003 to 0.005 cents per stream. The model also forces paying users to pay royalties towards songs and artists that they are not currently listening to. Artists see much less monetization from their music today than when physical copies of songs and records were the primary source of handpicking music. Even with the glaring weaknesses within this model, Spotify has chosen to double down on its strategies, updating the model so that any track with under one thousand streams is refused royalties altogether. In a recent interview, emerging artist AKABURNZYY simply stated he “would definitely make some changes” to the new model but admitted that the situation is quite complicated. He would go on to explain that the new model “dissuades a lot of artists and makes them feel like failures for not being able to live off their music.”  Spotify is indirectly stifling the creativity of the emerging generation of artists by not offering a stable system of support and recognition. Without proper support, many artists will find it taxing and not entirely worth it to go through the arduous creative process of crafting music to receive little to quite literally no compensation for their work. AKABURNZYY shared his thoughts on this matter, claiming, “What artists put into their work, they deserve to get out of it,” a sentiment that can resonate with many growing artists. 

AKABURNZYY gives scope to the music industry’s current state, explaining that “Many artists don’t rely on their streams anymore” for compensation, detailing that most of their money is made from merchandise, tour sales, and their contracts with their distributors and record labels. Most emerging artists in the early stages of their careers do not have these opportunities to fund their careers, having to directly rely on the money made from their royalties and putting them at a severe disadvantage when trying to develop a successful music career; “You have to put money in to get money out, and many of us aren’t getting money out,” says the young artist. Not being able to rely on his music to fund his creative expenditures, AKABURNZYY currently works three jobs as a college student.

Many have called for a switch to a user-centric model in place of the problem-ridden current model. The proposed model does away with the even rate distribution seen in the current model, instead having artists’ royalties generated directly by the users listening to them. The ten dollars a user pays for a subscription will be divided among the artists that the user listens to within the month; this way, the same amount of money is being distributed but more streamlined to the artists. AKABURNZYY showed support for this model, claiming “Artists would feel more prioritized” in a user-centric model, further stating that it would benefit smaller artists more. With the outcry seen from artists and media alike in response to the new model restricting smaller, growing artists, it may only be a matter of time before such a model is seriously considered. 

Artists contribute more to the public’s daily life than is given credit, and it is time for credit to be paid out justly by those who control the industry. We live in an era of accessibility, but that does not justify nor rationalize an artist’s inaccessibility to proper compensation. AKABURNZYY spoke for a generation of creative minds when he said, “My time, effort, and attention to detail is worth a lot more than 0.003 cents per stream.”

Listen to AKABURNZYY’s music and access his social media below.