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3 March 2021

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Union fight to save musicians' livelihoods

Streaming companies like Spotify make huge profits at the expense of musicians, photo Gavin Whitner/CC

Streaming companies like Spotify make huge profits at the expense of musicians, photo Gavin Whitner/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Henry Hoare-Exley, Brighton Socialist Party

The Covid-19 crisis has forced society to shut down, and music venues, which have not opened at all since last March, are no exception. A musician's main sources of income are typically touring and gigging but, due to venue closures, many musicians are struggling financially, relying solely on income from streaming.

To earn the hourly minimum wage an artist's music must be streamed 3,114 times. In context, the minimum wage working 40 hours a week 46.4 weeks of the year would require 5,779,584 streams. Still, this is only enough to support one person, for bands and groups a lot more streams are needed. Poverty has never been a stranger to most musicians, and now many face having to abandon the industry or take up multiple jobs.

Over time, more and more artists come from privileged backgrounds, usually privately educated, because they don't need to worry about income. Gentrification means artists can no longer live in city centres, leaving areas previously rich in culture drained.

Some think this makes sense, that musicians are not productive members of society and that music is a hobby. Art is the heart of all humanity; without the capabilities of creative expression there is no humanity and we become no more than products of labour here to serve the capitalist machine.

On 15 March UMAW (Union of Musicians and Allied Workers) will be protesting outside Spotify offices globally, asking that the union's demands are met. This includes a pay increase to 1p per stream. The Socialist Party supports the union taking action. We demand democratic public ownership of the streaming industry, as well as demanding that the arts should be funded and subsidised by the government as a social good. Action must be taken now if we are to prevent the loss of music, drama, dance and creativity.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 3 March 2021:


Budget

Not a budget for the working class!

Public sector workers respond to the budget


News

President of 'big four' Labour-affiliated trade union joins TUSC committee

Women's health matters


International Women's Day

A fighting programme for women's rights and socialism

A history of International Women's Day


What we think

Liverpool Labour meltdown - Fight for socialist policies


School safety

Schools' safety - teachers demand fighting union strategy


Features

'Casino capitalism' - driving another potential financial Armageddon

1981: New Cross Massacre


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Manchester indefinite bus strike against 'fire and rehire'

HMRC: Pay deal agreed but at what cost?

British Gas strike

Sparks force bosses back but fight continues to stamp out deskilling

Reinstate victimised bus driver Declan Clune

RAF Leeming strike escalates

Tech workers walk out against 'fire and rehire'

Victory for Judith, defend Moe


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Why we need socialists in London city hall

Socialist Students conference

Swansea BLM protest against racist police brutality

Union fight to save musicians' livelihoods

Labour surrenders to Tories in Devon

Determined to smash the fighting fund target to fuel election challenge in May


 

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Related links:

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triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The election results - and the next steps in promoting socialist ideas

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Arts:

triangleStop Labour council's eviction of Stratford Circus arts centre

Article dated 3 March 2021

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Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo by Dave Murray

Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo Dave Murray

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