Musicians' Union's Horace Trubridge: 'Anyone who signs a deal for less than 30 points on streaming needs their head examined'

Musicians' Union's Horace Trubridge: 'Anyone who signs a deal for less than 30 points on streaming needs their head examined'

Musicians' Union (MU) general secretary Horace Trubridge has declared that the battle to attain fair streaming royalties for its members is a key priority for the organisation.

Trubridge (pictured) was chosen for the top job in March, in the election to name a successor to outgoing general secretary John Smith, now at PPL.

Trubridge told Music Week that streaming royalties was the one issue above all others that he was determined to make progress on.

"There are three categories of performers I’m concerned about," he said. "One is artists who signed deals before digital came along, then current signed artists, then session musicians, or non-featured.

"Current signed artists and their managers are signing deals in full knowledge of the way their music will be exploited. Anyone who signs a deal for less than 30 points on streaming needs their head examined, as far as I’m concerned. So they’re less of a concern, but there’s still a massive imbalance of negotiating power between new acts and a record label.

"The bands that signed deals before digital are victims of the fact that labels assume an assignment of a right that didn’t exist when they signed the deal, the Making Available Right. They’re all on appalling deals, unless they’ve had the chance to renegotiate, and very few have. Finally, I have huge concerns for non-featured artists, because radio is in decline.

"Young people, as far as I can see, don’t listen to radio that much anymore. They’re moving to what is, really, sophisticated radio: streaming services. Of course, there’s no equitable remuneration for non-featured [artists] on streaming services. They get equitable remuneration for radio play, so if that’s going to decline in the next five years and there’s nothing to replace it, what’s going to happen to session musicians? They’re going to suffer again."

Trubridge is also a member of late 1970s collective Darts, who scored six Top 10 hits in under two years. He isa  27-year veteran of the MU, which was founded in Manchester in 1893 and now has more than 30,000 members.

"The reason we got the government to back us on term extension was because we explained that there was this big rump of very important recordings that were going to fall out of copyright," he said. 

"So the likes of the bass player from Walk On The Wild Side or the piccolo trumpet player on Penny Lane were no longer going to receive money from PPL. That’s what turned Andy Burnham and the Labour government around at the time, and made them back us. So again, we’re fighting the battle for the little guys.

"There has to be a change in the Making Available Right, so that it’s not just an exclusive right but an equitable remuneration right as well. This is crucial for us."

By Paul Sexton

Read the full Music Week Big Interview with Trubridge here

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