MPs will probe impact of streaming giants including Spotify and Amazon

MPs will probe impact of streaming giants including Spotify and Amazon

October 15, 2020

MPs will probe Spotify and Apple Music after musicians claimed payments they get from streaming giants are ‘woefully insufficient’

  • Committee to look at sustainability of streaming and impact on music industry
  • Inquiry comes as campaigners called streaming royalties ‘woefully insufficient’
  • Musicians’ Union and Ivors Academy have launched ‘Keep Music Alive’ campaign

DCMS Committee chairman Julian Knight will lead inquiry into the sustainability of streaming model on the music industry

MPs are to examine the impact of streaming giants such as Spotify and Apple Music on the music industry.

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee will look at how the streaming model has affected artists, record labels and the sustainability of the wider sector.

The first evidence session is expected to be held towards the end of November.

The inquiry comes after the Musicians’ Union and Ivors Academy launched the Keep Music Alive campaign, calling streaming royalties ‘woefully insufficient’ and urging the Government to undertake a review.

The DCMS inquiry will look at the business models operated by platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play.

The committee will also consider whether the Government should act to protect the industry from piracy in the wake of steps taken by the European Union on copyright and intellectual property rights.

Committee chairman Julian Knight said: ‘While streaming is a growing and important part of the music industry, contributing billions to global wealth, its success cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists.

‘Algorithms might benefit platforms in maximising income from streaming but they are a blunt tool to operate in a creative industry, with emerging talent risking failing the first hurdle.

‘We’re asking whether the business models used by major streaming platforms are fair to the writers and performers who provide the material.

‘Longer term, we’re looking at whether the economics of streaming could in future limit the range of artists and music that we’re all able to enjoy today.’ 

The Keep Music Alive campaign by the Ivors Academy and MU has run alongside the grassroots artist-led #BrokenRecord campaign led by musician, songwriter and Academy Director Tom Gray.

In May, the organisations launched a petition, which now has more than 16,000 signatures, calling for a Government review of music streaming to ‘ensure it is equitable and transparent for the whole music ecosystem’. 

Graham Davies, Chief Executive of the Ivors Academy, said: ‘On behalf of all music creators we are delighted that Government will investigate the streaming market so it can work for all parts of the music industry.

‘Most creators cannot make a living from streaming, it simply does not pay enough and millions of pounds each year is not properly allocated due to poor data.

‘Following our campaigning with the Musicians’ Union, performers and creators to Fix Streaming this is an opportunity to create a transparent, fair and equitable approach.’

According to the Ivors Academy, music streaming in the UK brings in more than £1 billion in revenue with 114 billion music streams in the last year.

But the academy says the returns to artists are ‘unacceptably low’, and can be as little as 15% of the income generated. 

Music streaming in the UK brings in more than £1 billion with 114 billion music streams in the last year, according to campaign but can generate as little as 15 per cent of income for artists

Naomi Pohl, MU Deputy General Secretary, said: ‘It is extremely welcome that the DCMS Select Committee has announced an inquiry into the economics of music streaming at a time when musicians are making very little money from live performance due to Covid-19.

‘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. 

‘We hope this inquiry will show that a more equitable model is possible and that streaming royalties can and should play a significant role in sustaining the careers of creators and artists.’

The inquiry, expected to be held in November, will be calling on testimony from industry experts, artists and record labels as well as the streaming platforms.  

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