BPI chief Geoff Taylor has spoken to Music Week about the #BrokenRecord and #FixStreaming debate.
Taylor was speaking as part of this week's analysis of lockdown listening habits based on Official Charts Company data.
A conversation among musicians has developed under the hashtags in recent weeks about how the recorded music business works for artists and songwriters. The Ivors Academy and Musicians’ Union launched the Keep Music Alive alliance earlier this month as part of an effort to bring about change, with Ivors CEO Graham Davies urging the industry to "fix streaming".
But pointing to the £1.5 million hardship funding to musicians in need, coordinated by the BPI, Taylor acknowledged the situation facing creators, but said record labels were also under the cosh.
"We absolutely understand artists are hard hit by the cancellation of all live events and their [loss of] earnings means it’s a really tough time," he said. "That’s why we created a hardship fund, we’ve already announced £1.5m and we’re hoping to be able to announce further donations in the next few days. We’re trying to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with that effort.
"Labels are under pressure also in terms of their earnings, we’re trying to do everything we can to restore those revenues because ultimately that’s what funds our payments out to artists. And that’s why we’re campaigning for government to suspend or exempt us from VAT for a year. That would really help get the physical business back on its feet, and that’s really important because that is an important revenue stream."
The defining characteristic of our business is risk and the huge investment labels make into artist careers
Taylor said it would be a mistake to take the labels’ contribution to the success of the industry and artists’ earnings for granted.
"The defining characteristic of our business is risk and the huge investment labels make into artist careers," he said. "What we don’t want to do is do something that’s going to undermine that investment and make labels less inclined to back new British talent.
"It’s all very easy to make assumptions about the business and think, ‘Oh, there must be money there that we can just go and grab’. Well, actually where that money goes is it’s reinvested into new talent, both in terms of advances and A&R costs for that new talent, recording costs and also marketing those artists and trying to make them successful.
"And that’s why we’ve got to look at this as a joint endeavor. Our focus should be on growing the streaming pie rather than trying to argue over where that streaming pie should go. The market takes care of that bit. The market takes care of the allocation of the monies that are earned from streaming."
And Taylor said the priority should now be on a combined effort to get more money in from streaming.
"There’s a whole series of issues we could talk about there, but this is a joint endeavor where labels are the No.1 partner of artists," he said. "Sometimes some of the campaigning groups lose sight of that."
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