MPs call for 'complete reset' of music streaming to ensure fair pay for artists

2 weeks ago 12

By Mark Savage
BBC euphony reporter

image captionEd Sheeran is presently the most-streamed creator successful the UK, with his comeback azygous Bad Habits

The euphony manufacture is weighted against artists, with adjacent palmy popular stars seeing "pitiful returns" from streaming, a committee of MPs has said.

They are calling for a "complete reset" of the market, with musicians fixed a "fair share" of the £736.5 cardinal that UK grounds labels gain from streaming.

In a report, they said royalties should beryllium divided 50/50, alternatively of the existent rate, wherever artists person astir 16%.

The findings came aft a six-month enquiry into euphony streaming.

"While streaming has brought important profits to the recorded euphony industry, the endowment down it - performers, songwriters and composers - are losing out," said Julian Knight, MP, who chairs parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.

"Only a implicit reset of streaming that enshrines successful instrumentality their rights to a just stock of the net volition do."

How streaming took implicit    music. Music manufacture  gross  2011-2020.  .

The findings volition beryllium seen arsenic a triumph by popular stars similar Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Melanie C, Wolf Alice and Jessie Ware, who recently called connected the Prime Minister to betterment the mode musicians get paid erstwhile their songs are streamed.

Musician Tom Gray, whose #BrokenRecord run prompted the inquiry, said helium was "overjoyed" by the findings.

"It feels similar a monolithic vindication," helium said. "They've truly travel to the aforesaid conclusions that we've been saying for a precise agelong time."

The BPI, which represents the UK recorded euphony industry, was much cautious.

It said streaming was "enabling much artists than ever" to gain a "long-term, sustainable income" and that caller policies should beryllium decently examined to guarantee against "unintended consequences for concern into caller talent".

How bash artists get paid astatine the moment?

At present, Spotify is believed to wage betwixt £0.002 and £0.0038 per stream, portion Apple Music pays astir £0.0059. YouTube pays the slightest - astir £0.00052 (or 0.05 pence) per stream.

All of that wealth goes to rights-holders, a broad word that covers everything from monolithic grounds companies to artists who merchandise their ain music. That wealth is past divided up betwixt everyone progressive successful making the record.

Often, the signaling creator volition lone person astir 13% of the revenue, with labels and publishers keeping the rest.

Artists who merchandise their ain music, oregon who enactment with autarkic labels and organisation companies, thin to get a higher share.

A survey by the Ivors Academy and Musicians' Union recovered that successful 2019, 82% of nonrecreational musicians made little than £200 from streaming, whilst lone 7% made much than £1,000.

What did musicians and labels archer the inquiry?

image captionChic's Nile Rodgers: "We don't adjacent cognize what a watercourse is worth"

The hearings were afloat of testy exchanges. Some witnesses said they were frightened to talk retired for fearfulness of reprisals; and the caput of 1 grounds statement was described arsenic "living successful unreality cuckoo land" aft helium claimed artists were blessed with the euphony streaming model.

Mercury Prize nominee Nadine Shah made headlines aft telling the committee she had been forced to determination backmost successful with her parents due to the fact that "earnings from my streaming are not important capable to support the wolf distant from the door".

Pop songwriter Fiona Bevan revealed she'd earned conscionable £100 for a way connected Kylie Minogue's fig 1 album, Disco. "Right now, deed songwriters are driving Ubers," she told MPs. "It's rather shameful."

Chic's Nile Rodgers said that the finances of streaming are shrouded successful secrecy, adding: "We don't adjacent cognize what a watercourse is worthy and there's nary mode you could adjacent find retired what a watercourse is worth, and that's not a bully relationship."

The 3 large labels - Sony, Universal and Warner Music - faced immoderate of the toughest questioning of the inquiry, and were accused of a "lack of clarity" by MPs.

They mostly argued to support the presumption quo, saying immoderate disruption could harm concern successful caller music, and resisted the thought that streaming was comparable to vigor - wherever artists person a 50/50 royalty split.

"Streaming is 24-7 successful each state successful the world, you tin perceive to the top grounds store ever - it's intelligibly a sale, it's not radio, it's on-demand," said Joseph, CEO of Universal Music UK.

Representatives from the streaming companies suggested they were "open-minded" astir changing the royalty system, but noted that 70% their income already goes to labels, publishers and artists.

"It is simply a narrow-margin business, truthful it wouldn't really instrumentality that overmuch to upset the alleged pome cart," said Apple Music's Elena Segal.

What person MPs recommended?

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionStreaming present accounts for 80% of euphony depletion successful the UK

The committee's study said streaming had "undoubtedly helped prevention the euphony industry" aft decades of piracy, "but it is wide that what has been saved does not enactment for everyone".

They recommended that the authorities walk authorities to springiness performers the close to "equitable remuneration", whereby labels and artists person an adjacent stock of streaming royalties.

The study called it a "simple yet effectual solution", arsenic the close already exists successful UK instrumentality erstwhile songs are played connected vigor and TV.

MPs besides raised "deep concerns" astir the dominance of the large euphony companies, and urged the authorities to notation the lawsuit to the Competition and Markets Authority.

Other recommendations included:

  • Musicians and songwriters should beryllium allowed to reclaim the rights to their enactment from labels aft a acceptable play of time.
  • Artists should beryllium fixed the close to set their declaration if their enactment is palmy beyond the remuneration they received.
  • The authorities should research ways to guarantee songwriters, who person minimal streaming royalties, tin person sustainable careers.
  • Curators who marque playlists connected services similar Spotify and Apple Music should adhere to a "code of conduct" to debar bribes and favouritism.
  • The authorities should necessitate publishers and royalty societies to pass artists astir however overmuch wealth is flowing done the system.
  • Warner and Universal Music should travel Sony's example, and cancel their artists' humanities debts.

The committee besides expressed concerns that "the economics of streaming entrench historically palmy artists and make barriers for caller performers", with perennial hits by Abba, Queen and Fleetwood Mac starving up-and-coming musicians of opportunities.

Figures released yesterday showed that new euphony accounted for conscionable 33% of the euphony streamed successful the US this year, with older songs dominating people's listening choices.

What's the effect been?

image copyrightPA Media

image captionKate Bush was 1 of much than 230 artists who wrote to the Prime Minister asking for reforms

Tom Gray said the study confirmed what his #BrokenRecord run had been telling grounds labels each along: "That their concern exemplary needs to alteration and that they request to look the world of that and get connected with it".

He said helium hoped the authorities would enact the recommendations quickly, perchance by acting connected a backstage member's measure by Labour MP Kevin Brennan that seeks to alteration copyright laws astir streaming.

"This is thing that they tin bash for the British taste sector, wherever they don't person to spell and negociate with Brussels," helium told the BBC. "If they privation to assistance British creators, inventors and performers, this is thing they tin conscionable do."

The Association of Independent Music (AIM) welcomed the report's praise for autarkic grounds labels, who traditionally wage higher royalty rates to their artists.

"However, our presumption is that equitable remuneration volition not present the result they are hoping for," said CEO Paul Pacifico. "It is simply a 20th Century solution not acceptable for the 21st Century integer marketplace and volition permission the adjacent procreation of artists worse off."

The BPI argued that streaming worked successful artists' favour - with 2,000 artists acceptable to execute 10 cardinal streams this year, the equivalent of selling 10,000 CDs, oregon making astir £29,000. It warned unpicking the existent strategy could harm concern successful caller music.

"When considering this report, the Government besides needs to see the captious relation that labels play arsenic the starring investors into artists' careers, with concern successful artists by grounds labels increasing year-on-year," said CEO Geoff Taylor.

"We volition cautiously analyse the findings of this report, but it is indispensable that immoderate argumentation proposals debar unintended consequences for concern into caller talent, and bash not imperil this country's bonzer planetary occurrence successful music."

Meanwhile, The Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum issued a associated connection saying the "landmark" study could "fundamentally improve" the economical concern for thousands of musicians.

"This is simply a erstwhile successful a beingness infinitesimal to reset our concern on fairer and much equitable lines, it is not an accidental to beryllium wasted."

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