Dan, I agree, music streaming royalty rates are pitiful. Many musicians have given up on making music a career. It is too hard to make a living. Very few buy music anymore.
I use Apple Music. It’s streaming royalty rate is double Spotify’s but still sad. They also create personalized playlists that are pretty good for discovering music.
I like your Medium-style idea for paying musicians. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Labels and recording rights organizations still have too much control for drastic changes to come easily.
I wrote an article comparing musician’s woes to writer’s woes, since book sales are also declining as books have gone digital like music. If you are interested it is here (please excuse the unintended self-promotion, I just think it would expand on my reply):