Nadine Shah, Tim Burgess, Ed O’Brien and more on ongoing streaming debate: “We need a fairer system in place”

"We need more of the money that comes in to find its way to the smaller artists"

Nadine Shah, Tim Burgess, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and more have opened up about the ongoing debate into streaming and artist payments in a series of new interviews.

Speaking to The Guardian, the musicians have spoken ahead of the publication of the long-anticipated parliamentary report into the streaming industry. It comes as MPs are currently examining the economic impact that music streaming is having on artists, record labels and the wider music industry in the inquiry.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Commons Select Committee have been examining the business model since last year and whether or not the model is fair to songwriters and performers via the ‘Economics Of Music Streaming’ inquiry.

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Speaking to The Guardian, Shah – who spoke directly at the inquiry last November – said artists must receive a greater share of streaming revenues for the model to be fair.

Shah said: “The three major labels are bragging about record profits while thousands of musicians are seeing virtually nothing coming back to them.

“We need a fairer system in place. We need more transparency. I wish it was the case that all artists would realise their power and all stand together and unite and strike, but so many of us are so scared to lose favour with major labels and the streaming platforms. Surely we can find a way to make streaming work for all of us.”

Nadine Shah 2021 show
Nadine Shah performs live, 2020. CREDIT: Getty

The Charlatans’ Burgess also said the system needs “clarity”. He added: “We have all the numbers and they are updated in real time. Spotify has just been valued at $67bn while the entire live music industry disappeared a year ago and shows no signs of returning any time soon.

“Spotify Premium has 155 million subscribers, but there are so many stories of imbalance when it comes to those who make the actual music…we need more of the money that comes in to find its way to the smaller artists, the major labels need to step up too.”

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Radiohead’s O’Brien added: “They’re no quick fixes, but there are some reforms such as equitable remuneration. But they don’t solve the problem entirely. Up-and-coming artists wouldn’t necessarily benefit from that and they are the ones who fall by the wayside with streaming, especially now because they can’t sustain their income with live gigging.”

Others who contributed to the far-reaching interviews included Kate Nash, Nile Rogers, Billy Bragg and GomezTom Grey as well as Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s head of global affairs and chief legal officer.

Gutierrez told The Guardian, “We know the ongoing pandemic has had a huge impact on the careers of artists, who are now relying on streaming income more than ever before.

We want to continue to support them and we welcome the opportunity to work together with rights holders and administrators to look at how we can modernise music economics to do this.”

The Committee’s inquiry into at “the business models” operated by streaming giants like Spotify is due to be published this spring.

Over £1 billion in revenue was generated from 114 billion music streams in the UK last year. The inquiry has already noted that despite these figures, “artists can be paid as little as 13% of the income generated”.

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