Taylor Swift doesn’t need any more money. Would you pay an extra streaming fee for musicians who do need a boost?

A proposed bill would add an extra $4 to $10 a month to streaming music fees.Making streaming music work better for artists — especially non-famous ones — is a real problem.But this bill won’t solve it because it’s never going anywhere.

Lots of consumers like streaming music. Lots of musicians complain about streaming — they say it doesn’t generate nearly as much revenue for them as they deserve and need.

So here’s a proposal to help fix that: a tax that would increase American consumers’ music streaming bills by 50% — meaning you’d pay an extra $4 to $10 a month for services like Spotify or Apple Music.

[Record scratch.] What?

That proposal comes from the Living Wage for Musicians Act, sponsored by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-New York).

And this one is obviously not going anywhere. I don’t believe there was ever a time that Americans supported a 50% tax hike on anything, for any reason. But it’s clearly not going to happen when lots of them are still trying to figure out how to afford houses or eggs after a big inflation spike.

You can also tell Tlaib and the bill’s supporters don’t really think this tax is going anywhere, either.

That’s presumably why Tlaib’s office doesn’t spell out the cost of the tax in the announcement promoting the bill — it refers to it only as a “small fee.”

The same goes for the United Musicians and Allied Workers, the group that helped create the bill. And the same goes for this op-ed from Damon Krukowski, a musician and UMAW member. None of them spell out what would happen to consumers’ monthly bills if this went through.

Which, frankly, made me think that Krukowski and his colleagues are trying to accomplish something else with this proposal. Though I’m not sure what that would be.

But when we got on the phone to discuss the bill this month, he said it’s supposed to be taken literally and seriously.

“This is meant to be a workable solution,” he told me.

Leaving aside the non-starter of a tax, Krukowski has plenty of good points to make about how difficult it is for most musicians to make any kind of money from streaming. Many of which you’ve heard before.

One good bit of nuance Krukowski adds that you likely haven’t heard: In some cases, the US government already has a role in distributing revenue to musicians (or, at least, people who own the rights to songs musicians write and perform). But that doesn’t apply to much of the revenue on-demand music streamers collect.

And while lots of musicians take issue with deals big music labels strike with the likes of Spotify and how little of that comes back to artists, Krukowski says the bill is explicitly not trying to meddle with those deals. This is just supposed to add an additional revenue source, which would be distributed directly to artists.

But back to that fee, which the bill spells out as “an additional fee in an amount equal to 50 percent of the subscription fee charged by the service provider, except that such additional fee shall not be an amount less than $4 or more than $10.”

So for a Spotify premium subscriber, paying a list price of $11 a month, that would be an additional $5.50 a month. (That theoretical money would get collected and distributed by a nonprofit fund; the money would be divvied up based on usage, which would also be capped so that mega-popular artists like Taylor Swift wouldn’t soak up all the new revenue.)

Again: Who’s going to go for that?

And here, I’ll note that anyone who spends any time looking at their bill for things like cell service, cable TV, a meal out, or a hotel stay is likely to find all kinds of extra taxes and surcharges on top of the original fee, you thought you were paying. And those fees can be both meaningful — the average “resort fee” at a hotel now reportedly averages $30 a night — and immovable: If you don’t want to pay that fee, your options are pretty darn limited.

While I’m at it, I can also note I often voluntarily — or at least somewhat voluntarily — will throw an extra dollar in a real or digital tip jar when I buy a cup of coffee.

And that, if I think about it, I’m probably spending north of $4 a month for extra fees on coffee purchases alone. And that while I wish the people making my coffee or delivering my food or cleaning my hotel room got paid more by their employers or gig arrangers, I’m willing to accept that it’s kind of on me to help people make a living. So I [usually/sometimes] do it.

And, maybe, if my Spotify family subscription offered a digital tip jar — and I truly thought that money would go directly to musicians — I might be tempted to throw in a few bucks here and there, too.

But that’s a whole lot different than a government-imposed levy, no matter how well-intentioned it is. Even if I was OK with it, it’s hard to imagine a less popular proposal.

Anyone got a better idea?

Read the original article on Business Insider

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