The House Of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee is to investigate the impact of streaming.
MPs will examine how music streaming is effecting artists, record labels and the sustainability of the wider music industry economically.
“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," said DCMS committee chair Julian Knight MP.
“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 committee will also consider whether the government should be taking action to protect the industry from piracy in the wake of steps taken by the EU on copyright and intellectual property rights.
The inquiry is seeking the perspectives of industry experts, artists and record labels as well as streaming platforms themselves.
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said he hoped the inquiry would illuminate the role labels play in the streaming environment.
“We welcome the opportunity presented by the DCMS Select Committee to examine the impact of streaming on the music industry, including the vital role labels play as the leading investors into new music, to the benefit of fans and the whole music ecosystem," he explained.
Music Managers Forum CEO Annabella Coldrick welcomed the announcement. "Managers are at the epicentre of changes in the recorded music business, and the MMF have been at the forefront of debates around streaming through our long-running Dissecting The Digital Dollar initiative," she said. "We look forward to submitting evidence on behalf of our membership."
Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy was similarly pleased with the committee's plans.
“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," he said. "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.”
Naomi Pohl, deputy general secretary of the Musicians’ Union also said she looked forward to the investigation.
“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," she said.
"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.”
Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA, was also pleased the committee would be examining the issue.
“We welcome the decision of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to shine a light on the huge economic impact of streaming on the music market," she said. "Little more than a decade ago the music industry was on the ropes due to piracy. By providing an attractive, convenient and legal alternative, from which around 70% of the revenue goes straight to the music industry, streaming services have provided the biggest boost to music for a generation.”
Earlier this week, YouGov study for the #BrokenRecord campaign concluded that 77% of the public thought artists are not being paid enough from streaming, while 76% felt songwriters were also underpaid.
By Paul Stokes