Deezer to test overhaul of artist payments with new user-centric approach

Royalties and payments to artists have remained one of the most complex topics with the shift to streaming models. Deezer is trying a new approach to how it makes those payments. The company’s proposed plan is a user-centric payment system (UCPS) that it will begin trialing next year in France. If the new model is successful, Deezer will roll it out to all its markets.

Under the current system, all subscription fees are put in a pool and artists receive their payouts based on the percentage of total streams from across all listeners. The UCPS model would be a more direct system of support, where a user’s subscription fee goes only to pay the artists that individual listens to.

Deezer foresees this shift having benefits to both users and artists. Listeners will feel that they are more directly supporting their favorite performers with their subscription, creating the same direct correllation as album purchases have. For the industry side, UCPS could see a larger number performers benefiting financially, especially for niche genres.

Deezer said it already has the technical system in place for this shift. To make UCPS work, it needs to have more labels and industry support secured. Several labels have already signed on as partners, but none of the majors are on board yet.

Anna Washenko