Solidarity, Doggystyle: Snoop Dogg Voices Support for Writers Strike, Slams Streaming Model
Snoop Dogg may not be bringing pizza to the picket line, but he showed his support for the Writers Guild of America strike while offering a sharp critique of the streaming economy during a recent conversation at the Milken Institute Global Conference.
In conversation with former Apple Music Creative Director Larry Jackson, Snoop started off by talking about the streaming model in music, putting it bluntly from the start: “Streaming gotta get its shit together, cause I don’t understand how the fuck you get paid off of that shit. Like, can someone understand to me how you can get a billion streams and not get a million dollars? That shit don’t make sense to me.”
Snoop compared the current situation to the early Nineties when he was coming up, and artists got a clear percentage of physical record sales. But now, he argued, “If I sell how many streams, how much money do I get? It’s not being translated, and it’s not working for the artist right now.”
He continued: “We need to figure that out the same way the writers are figuring out… The writers are striking because streaming, they can’t get paid. Because, when it’s on the platform, it’s not like in the box office. In the box office, if it does all these numbers, you may get an up — ‘Oh, it did this many, here’s another check.’ But on streaming you got 300,000 hours that somebody watched your movie. Where’s the money?”
Snoop then made an appeal to the “room full of business people” he was speaking to, hoping that “someone may hear this and be able to do something about it so that way the next artist don’t have to struggle or cry or try to figure out how to get to his money.”
(One could argue, however, that “business people” — like execs at major labels or Hollywood studios — seem to be securing massive payouts from record profits in the streaming era, so they may not be exactly inclined to “do something about it.” Also, let’s not ignore the fact that Snoop was speaking at a conference hosted by a think tank founded by notorious financier Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty to felony charges of securities fraud and conspiracy in 1990, and was pardoned by Donald Trump in 2020.)
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The parallels Snoop drew between the WGA strike and the struggles of musicians, especially songwriters, is something many in the music world are pointedly aware of. As Rolling Stone recently reported, many songwriters have been inspired by the WGA strike and are trying to organize something similar, albeit without the help of a union (a Reagan-era ruling labeled songwriters as independent contractors, effectively prohibiting them from unionizing).
“We need to fight this fight and find a way. I don’t have the answer at this very moment, but an extreme change is needed,” said Justin Tranter, who’s written for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Fall Out Boy. “Songwriters literally can’t unionize, and without a union to support us, it would take every songwriter in the world to just agree we wouldn’t work. There are amazing new songwriters I work with every week who have streams in the billions who need to drive Uber or do OnlyFans because they can’t pay their rent. The WGA is inspiring and amazing and I hope it inspires the songwriting community that we shouldn’t be so afraid. If we all lock arms, we can make a change.”
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