United Kingdom government to examine the impact of streaming on music industry

Lawrence Kim
October 17, 2020

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have launched an inquiry into the whether the music streaming model is fair for labels and artists, particularly emerging talent, according to BBC News.

The parliamentary website states: "With streaming now accounting for more than half of the global music industry's revenue, this inquiry will look at the business models operated by platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play".

Streaming is now the major source of income for the record industry, generating just over £1bn previous year.

"While streaming is a growing and important part of the music industry contributing billions to global wealth, its success can not come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists", said DCMS committee chair Julian Knight MP.

MPs are to launch an inquiry into the streaming music market, looking at whether musicians are paid fairly by services like Spotify and Apple Music.

Committee chairman Julian Knight said: 'While streaming is a growing and important part of the music industry, contributing billions to global wealth, its success can not come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists. YouTube pays the least - about £0.00052 (or 0.05 pence) per stream.

"The Musicians' Union and the Ivors Academy have been calling for a Government review because the current crisis has highlighted that the royalties generated by streaming are far too low and the market is failing the vast majority of our members". He called the DCMS announcement "HUGE NEWS!" The investigation follows the results of a public survey commissioned by the #BrokenRecord campaign revealing that 77% of British adults think artists are not being paid enough and that revenues are unfairly weighted in order to benefit streaming platforms.

While the majority of people (69%) said they wouldn't support a rise in monthly subscription fees, half of them changed their mind and said they would be willing to pay more if the subscription went directly to the musicians they listened to.

Spotify and most leading streaming services pay money to music rights-holders on a pro-rata model. "We are chipping away here for many years already", chief content and strategy officer Alexander Holland told Music Ally in early October, implying that major labels had been hesitant to commit to the idea. "We can not unilaterally introduce UCPS and say, 'This is the way we do it'".

© Photograph: Ritchie B Tongo/EPA Streaming's success can not come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists, says MP Julian Knight.

The first evidence session is expected to be held towards the end of November. Through a new enquiry entitled Economics of Music Streaming, parliament will investigate a number of core aspects of streaming, including what the business models of the streaming companies, how algorithms and playlists have shaped music consumption and what the long term economic impacts of streaming might be on the wider industry. General digital media piracy - related to music, films and gaming - is said to have spiked since the implementation of global coronavirus lockdowns in spring.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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