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More than a decade ago, it was decided that the distribution of income from music streaming subscriptions should be based on the so-called "pro-rata" model - i.e. based solely on the total number of streams.

Due to the simultaneous decline in physical music sales, income from music streaming subscriptions has become the dominant source of income for artists and authors, alongside fees and performance fees.

To date, however, nothing has changed in the originally agreed distribution model. Even the mere debate about how to optimize distribution is only just beginning: with one exception - the so-called User-Centric Payment System (UCPS) - alternative models have not yet been explored.

In line with many voices from the industry PRO MUSIK sees the urgent need to feed the discussion about alternative models with meaningful data. 

Existing research on UCPS is still incomplete. Previous studies either did not come to clear conclusions (Digital Media Finland, FI, 2018) or focus on a potential redistribution from mainstream towards niche artists (e.g. Center National de la Musique, FR, 2021). The latter study arrived at the conclusion that UCPS would not lead to substantial changes. This has led to disillusionment among artists, musicians and within the indie music space.

It is true that such a redistribution from “top” to “bottom” by UCPS would not or hardly exist. However, we believe that this model would in fact lead to noticeable redistributions. These effects would not arise in relation to “mainstream” or “niche”, but only become visible when the data is examined from a different perspective.

Initiatives such as Broken Record, FixStreaming or Justice At Spotify show how important the discourse on alternative payment models is to music creators. However, this discussion lacks well-founded insights into the effects of alternative payment models.

We therefore consider further research on the matter to be necessary.

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