More should be done by the government to tackle the “pitiful” earnings musicians receive from streaming services, MPs say.
Acting DCMS committee chair and Conservative MP Damian Green said that “too many” artists receive “pitiful returns despite making successful music,” adding that the “main players” in the streaming world “need to get together to remedy this in a sustainable way”.
Following the publication of a new report titled Economics of music streaming: follow-up, Green said: “The world of music streaming is highly susceptible to changes in digital technology and the Government needs to make sure it is ahead of the game by taking a more strategic role in coordinating policy across departments.”
“The Government described our initial report as a ‘key moment for the music industry’. It now needs to make sure it follows through on the work done so far to fix the fundamental flaws in the market.”
The new report follows key figures in the music industry demanding government action on streaming following the publication of a report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in November. At the start of 2022, the CMA formally launched a new study to examine the music streaming market in which it considered “whether innovation is being stifled and if any firms hold excessive power”.
In response to the new DCMS report, industry figures have once again demanded more action from the government.
David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition and Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive of the Music Managers Forum, said in a joint statement: “Having contributed substantially to their initial evidence sessions on music streaming and subsequent IPO dialogue, the FAC and MMF wholeheartedly welcome the DCMS Committee’s renewed calls for reform. In what will be a critical year for British music, it is heartening that artists, songwriters and music makers have such concerted Parliamentary support for improved remuneration and contractual rights. We are also pleased by the Committee’s demand for further scrutiny of recent market reforms around recoupment and their backing for a national music strategy.”
“They added: “It is now vital that the wider industry embraces this spirit of reform and takes seriously the work already underway at the IPO. Our organisations are in complete alignment with other creator bodies on the need for greater fairness, transparency and remuneration. These issues are not going away, and neither are we.”
“A BPI spokesperson added: “We are pleased that the DCMS Select Committee has highlighted the positive steps that the industry has taken on the back of the original report. Following on from the three major music companies’ announcement last year of legacy artists’ programmes that set aside unrecouped artist balances for pre-2000 record deals, we are collectively working with the IPO to complete industry-led packages in the key areas of transparency, metadata and artist remuneration.
“After a record-breaking year for British artists domestically, negotiations are ongoing between the BPI and the Musicians’ Union over new rates for session musicians. At a time when the global music market is more competitive than ever, public policies must be firmly rooted in driving sustainable growth across the entire UK music ecosystem.”
Attempts for greater government regulation in streaming have, however, faced setbacks in the past. Back in December 2021, Kevin Brennan MP’s bill on reforming musicians’ remuneration – dubbed the ‘Brennan Bill’ – failed to make it through the House of Commons.
In 2021, artists and industry figures spoke to NME about what should and could happen next following the government’s streaming inquiry – calling for a fundamental “shift in the way that business is done” to make payments fairer for musicians.
It came after over 150 artists – including Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Damon Albarn, Chris Martin, Noel Gallagher and Wolf Alice – signed an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reform the streaming economy and “put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers”.
In response, MPs accused one major label boss of “living in cloud cuckoo land” after he claimed that artists were happy with the existing music streaming model.
Artists including Nadine Shah argued that “the earnings from my streaming are not significant enough” leaving her “in a position now where I am struggling to pay my rent“.