UK trade bodies react to major labels' evidence at DCMS streaming inquiry session

UK trade bodies react to major labels' evidence at DCMS streaming inquiry session

Music organisations were closely watching the virtual proceedings of the DCMS streaming inquiry session with the major labels.

You can read an extensive report on the hearing here – and the arguments surrounding the inquiry are here.

Here’s the reaction to the inquiry from some of the key trade bodies…

Naomi Pohl, MU deputy general secretary (pictured)

“The UK major label heads have claimed in these oral evidence sessions that artists are happy with the way streaming revenue is divided up. Given we have had 17,000 petition signatures and the #BrokenRecord campaign has had very wide engagement from artists on Twitter, this seems out of touch at best. When asked for their reactions to artists falling into hardship as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, they blamed this on the closure of the live music sector and also stated that they donate to charities and hardship funds for musicians.

“Of course, if recorded music revenues were paid out fairly to artists then we might not have seen over 20,000 applications to hardship funds in the first few months of the crisis. Recorded music must play its part in sustaining the livelihoods of the musicians and songwriters. We can't have labels announcing record profits while our members are quite literally unable to put food on the table. The system is broken and it needs to be fixed.”

David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition

"The session demonstrated the complexity of music streaming, so I am grateful to the Select Committee members for their drive and dedication in understanding how it works and how it can be fair and sustainable for the artists and creators that make it a multi-billion-pound industry. I trust that they will continue with this patient and forensic approach to the inquiry, as is clearly necessary to enable the development of meaningful recommendations. 

“The witnesses hailed streaming as an innovation which has transformed the music industry and which has more potential still to realise, a view that the FAC would support. The label heads also spoke of their corporations as artist-centric, with artist success and satisfaction at the centre of their business models. These are warm words but I now look forward to them demonstrating the sincerity of these claims by taking action to properly engage and remunerate the artist community. They must review how streaming rewards artists, how to distribute revenues fairly and how to ensure that the creators, who make their global music groups billions of pounds in profit each year, aren't in a position where they cannot pay rent."

There is enough money in streaming to go around, the problem is too much is going to the labels

Graham Davies

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum

“Time was short and the session covered so much ground, and we look forward to further written answers to some of the many unanswered questions. We were also pleased that the major label representatives acknowledged the need for refinement and evolution in how digital services are licensed and how streaming revenues are distributed. The shortcomings in these areas have been well documented in the MMF's Dissecting The Digital Dollar publications. 

“Now this conversation has started, we urge the major music companies to make good on their words and engage in an open dialogue with artists and their representatives about how licensing practices can be made more efficient, more equitable and, most importantly, updated, to ensure streaming and other online music services deliver in full on their potential.”

Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy 

"The Select Committee is doing a great job getting to the heart of the issues with streaming. Labels and their biggest artists will be content with the current system because it pays them so much. The major labels are resisting change, but change is needed. It is unfair that streaming leaves the majority of creators to have to perform live, sell merchandise or seek donations to make ends meet.

“The Select Committee heard that labels pay 20% to artists having bought the recording copyright outright. This contrasts enormously with publishing where deals are shorter and the publisher pays 80%. There is enough money in streaming to go around, the problem is too much is going to the labels. Paying more of streaming royalties to publishing will pay more to creators. This is the change we need.”

Catch up on our reporting of the first two streaming inquiry sessions here and here

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