Record label boss accused of being in “cloud cuckoo land” after music streaming comments

SNP MP John Nicolson delivered the criticism to Universal music chairman David Joseph

The boss of one of the UK’s leading record labels has been accused of “living in cloud cuckoo land” after he claimed that artists were happy with the existing music streaming model.

The criticism came as the bosses of three major labels –  Universal, Sony Music and Warner Music Group – delivered evidence to a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee inquiry which is investigating the economics of music streaming.

David Joseph, the chairman and chief executive of Universal Music, told the inquiry that artists were “very happy with the investment, very happy with advances” they currently receive, which prompted immediate interruption from the SNP MP John Nicolson.

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“I think you’re living in cloud cuckoo land here if you really believe that,” said Nicolson, per The Guardian.

It comes after musicians such as Radiohead’s Ed O’BrienElbow’s Guy Garvey and Nadine Shah warned MPs that unfair streaming payments were “threatening the future of music” during the first hearing in November.

Peter Leathem, the CEO of music copyright collective PPL, told the Committee that musicians at the start of their careers have “got the last 50 years of the music industry to compete with” on digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

“Ultimately, you’ve got some of the most talented people in our society [who] are struggling to make a living,” he continued (via the BBC).

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Over the weekend, Kate Nash became the latest musician to speak out against the inequalities in streaming payments amid the ongoing inquiry.

Beginning a thread on Twitter, in which she called on acts to “speak up”, Nash wrote: “If you’re an artist that can afford to live in a city like me then we have got to unite in some way to stand up for the working class musicians who can’t afford to keep going even though they have millions of streams on Spotify.

“It is unethical. Music is not a club for the rich.”

Writing for The Guardian last month, Nadine Shah said she had been unable to pay her rent once the coronavirus pandemic cut her touring income.

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