UK government launches new probe into the music streaming market

The Competition and Markets Authority will consider "whether innovation is being stifled and if any firms hold excessive power"

The UK government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has formally launched a new study to examine the music streaming market.

The announcement follows on from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s ‘Economics Of Music Streaming’ report, which was published last summer and led to the government calling on the CMA to start an investigation into the matter.

The government has today (January 27) announced that the CMA “will examine the music streaming market, from creator to consumer, paying particular attention to the roles played by record labels and music streaming services”.

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The CMA’s assessment will see them considering “whether innovation is being stifled and if any firms hold excessive power”, and aims to “build a deeper understanding of how firms in the market influence listeners’ choices and experiences”.

“While focussing on potential harm to consumers, the CMA will also assess whether any lack of competition between music companies could affect the musicians, singers and songwriters whose interests are intertwined with those of music lovers,” a statement adds.

The CMA, which has also said that it “will consider what action may be necessary” if the probe encounters any “problems”, is now inviting comments from “consumers, businesses and other interested parties” on any of the issues raised in its Statement of Scope and the accompanying Market Study Notice.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Whether you’re into Bowie, Beethoven or Beyoncé, most of us now choose to stream our favourite music.

Spotify, Amazon, and Pandora reportedly proposing even lower streaming royalty rates
(Picture: Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images)

“A vibrant and competitive music streaming market not only serves the interests of fans and creators but helps support a diverse and dynamic sector, which is of significant cultural and economic value to the UK.

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“As we examine this complex market, our thinking and conclusions will be guided by the evidence we receive.”

David Martin, the CEO of Featured Artists Coalition, said that he was “delighted” about the announcement of the probe.

“Streaming has delivered a great deal of opportunity for our industry, for artists and for fans. The format now represents the sector’s largest and fastest growing revenue stream,” he said. “However, the foundations which streaming is built on are decades old and were not designed with the format in mind. It is therefore right that this work takes place to ensure that the infrastructure is fit for purpose in the modern era.

“Streaming is complex, therefore we support the wide-ranging approach set out in the CMA’s Statement of Scope. It is imperative that the whole sector is properly understood in order to ensure that the UK music industry is the most fair, transparent and modern music industry in the world.

“The FAC looks forward to fully supporting the CMA in the next stages of its investigation.”

Back in December, Kevin Brennan MP’s bill on reforming musicians’ remuneration – dubbed the ‘Brennan Bill’failed to make it through the House of Commons.

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