Since music streaming revolutionized the music industry over a decade ago, the standard method of paying artists has been characterized by a lack of fairness and transparency. The subscription-based system used by streaming platforms gives listeners access to all of their music for a set monthly rate. As it currently stands, this revenue is distributed to artists based on their ranking on a streaming platform, meaning that the top artists are prioritized while smaller artists are left with the short end of the stick.
This is where UCPS (User Centric Payment System) comes in. Rather than dividing users’ subscription fees based on artists’ market value, as with the current system, UCPS distributes revenue based on each listener’s individual streams. Each user’s money goes only to the artists that they listen to, regardless of their ranking. In turn, this artist-centric initiative creates a fairer and more transparent payment system, while building a stronger connection between fans and artists.
This March (2023), Deezer announced the next step of its longstanding commitment to pursuing a model that is fairer for artists. In an initiative with Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, it will explore new streaming models that better align the interests of artists, fans and streaming services. Using deep data analysis, this partnership aims to improve the fairness of the current streaming model in various ways, whether by helping artists monetize their music better or by eliminating issues within the current system. This initiative will not prioritize just the most-streamed artists on the platform, but will level the playing field for artists at every stage of their career and benefit the wider music community as a whole.
Since 2009, the payment system used across all major streaming platforms has remained the same. Back then, we didn’t have the technology to divide revenue by individual users’ streams –– and so the current model was created, in which money is allocated to artists’ labels and publishers depending solely on their ranking on the platform. The more streams a song has, the more money is paid to the producer or publisher of that song, who then distributes this revenue according to their contracts with artists. In this system, subscribers’ fees are distributed to artists based on their market share, no matter whether the subscriber actually listens to those artists or not. Ultimately, this places smaller artists in competition with the biggest names in the industry, and leaves them with a low share of their fans’ revenue.
Deezer has long stood for diversity and fairness in music, including being a main advocate for a re-evaluation of music streaming’s economic model. Reflected not only in its vast catalog of artists, consisting of varied artists and genres, these values are embedded in its DNA. Deezer has a track record of prioritizing its fans’ and artists’ interests through the platform –– editorial playlists serve not only as an extra feature, but also as a way to promote artists that would otherwise struggle to compete for streams with bigger artists. This helps niche artists, local artists and those with older audiences, who have low streams but lots of fans, become more successful.
Technology has improved since 2009. Now, we have the capacity to allocate revenue to artists using a user-centric payment system that benefits not only those at the top, but artists of all genres, sizes and geographical locations. This is why Deezer is committed to pursuing UCPS –– its aim is to increase transparency and fairness within the music streaming industry, both values that are at the heart of the company. Deezer’s partnership with UMG marks an important step towards this fairer future for artists. This deal will allow the two companies to join forces and explore new ways of evolving the world of music streaming, for the benefit of artists, labels, platforms, and fans.
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