love to see the union discussion! a problem with the commonly suggested streaming alternatives i observe (patreon, bandcamp, etc) is that it relies on individual artists to try to rally consumers to their specific less-exploitative platforms.
this seems so atomizing to me––in addition to all the other hustles a working musician might be expected to maintain, they are now also tasked with promoting the platforms that rip them off the least (without alienating the people who found them on the bad platforms…) as well as, in the case of patreon, becoming web admins, managing their own communities, providing Exclusive Content, etc. these are fairly time intensive jobs that, in any other field, would be comfortable middle class careers in their own right. and not even a taylor swift sized artist was able do much more than publicly shame apple music into paying out royalties on streams from their free trial. what hope do the rest of us, as individuals, really have?
as i sell my creativity to the media industry, rather than direct to consumers, i don’t have skin in this particular game, but the topic reminds me of a nonspecific mutual aid group i am aware of in LA.
the group launched a fundraiser last year in order to distribute supplies to folks experiencing homelessness. they raised a few thousand dollars for tents, food, blankets, tarps, medication, etc. then the george floyd protests popped off, america suddenly became extremely interested in mutual aid, and the group raised an absurd amount of money. these days, in a given month they’re distributing something like $45k of supplies to folks in need. but they’re running out of money. without a george floyd-sized uprising every year, even the limited amount of harm reduction––in itself already no substitute for housing––that they have been able to offer is unsustainable.
put another way (and this is the connection), the exploitation will continue as long as the structures which generate it are allowed to persist.
i don’t know that i believe it’s possible to create an “ethical art economy” without creating an actual ethical economy for all, but regardless of whether that’s true, to me, the path forward in either case has to be a mass collective action with the objective of structural change.