Accepting that subscription costs are unlikely to rise of their own accord any time soon, Gray advocates for something else: a method known as a user-centric payment system – or UCPS. Under this model, subscriber revenues are distributed according to what the individual user has spent their time listening to. So the Ariana Grande fan’s subscription would still mostly go to Grande’s rights holders but, crucially, her dad’s £10 wouldn’t: that would go to Paul Weller’s rights holders. Supporters of the model argue that this is a fairer way to remunerate artists, as well as having other expected benefits such as supporting niche and local music scenes, offsetting the impact of ‘power users’ (like the Ariana stan in the pro rata example), and similarly tackling streaming platforms’ well-publicised problem with bots by limiting the influence a single account has on payouts.
Big artists hoover up huge payouts from Spotify and Apple Music, while others get a pittance. Could a user-centric payment system be the answer?
Will Pritchard reports on the push for more equitable funding on music via streaming services, such as Spotify. One model being pushed by advocates like Tom Gray from Gomez is a user-centre payment system: