Government urged to “force necessary change” after continuing investigation calls for “full reset”
Artists and industry figures have urged the government to “force necessary changes” after an investigation called for a “total reset” to the way artists are paid by streaming services.
The Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) select committee has been examining the business model since last year and whether or not it’s fair to songwriters and performers.
The findings released last week (July 15) saw MPs calling for new legislation that “enshrines in law [artistsâ] right to a fair share of income âto remedy the inequality of payments received by artists.
The inquiry’s recommendations also included calls for the government to legislate so that performers “have the right to fair remuneration for streaming revenue.”
- READ MORE: Streaming – what’s next? Artists demand “a change in the way business is done”
David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, the UK trade body that represents the specific rights and interests of musical artists, told NME that the report’s recommendations must be implemented if the gap in payments received by artists is to be properly closed.
âThe FAC is delighted to see such a powerful set of recommendations from the DCMS select committee, and we thank them for their diligence in getting to this point,â said Martin. NME.
âWe have long advocated for a better offer for artists and other creators from the recorded music they create, which generates so much value for the entire music industry.
“We are particularly pleased to see that all of the recommendations that were put forward in our submission have gained prominence in the report, such as contract renegotiation and greater transparency.”
Martin added: âThe government needs to seriously examine the report and engage the artists, to ensure that its proposals are properly considered and analyzed. Now is the time for all labels and rights management organizations to step up and treat creators fairly.
âWhere injustice persists, the FAC and the artist community will tirelessly push the government to implement regulatory interventions to force the necessary changes. “
Major streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music currently operate on a system where royalty payments are distributed based on which artists have the most coins.
Last November, Radiohead‘s Ed O’Brien, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Nadine Shah and Tom Gray of Gomez were among the artists who spoke during the inquiry last November, telling MPs that the payments continue âThreatened the future of musicâ.
Another vocal voice has emerged in the form of Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, who passionately called for streaming reform in an opinion piece published earlier this year.
Doubling down on his calls following the investigation’s findings, Burgess said NME: âWe have known for years that a lot of the revenue generated by streaming does not reach artists, thanks to campaigns like #BrokenReCord, we have learned that a lot of funds go to the big labels but are diverted from the people who make the music that makes money. Archaic contracts mean that artists are unpaid the longest.
Burgess also referred to comments from Julian Knight MP, president of The Digital Culture, Media and Sport, who said that âWhile streaming has brought significant benefits to the recorded music industry, the talent behind it – performers, songwriters and songwriters – is losing out. “
Burgess said: âThe details can be explored, but plans need to be in place. This is not about my generation of musicians and bands – we lived in different eras where music was bought and owned by our audiences. Streaming came along and it was like a Wild West land grab – the rules set by the people who benefited the most.
“Are there better days on the way? It’s hard to say. There is a lot of work to be done, but at least there are new ears to hear what musicians have been saying for quite a long time.
Talk to NME On condition of anonymity, an industry insider also warned that the pipeline of future acts would be at risk if artists did not receive sufficient payment for their craft through streaming services.
âPayments through the streaming model are so pitiful right now that artists will make their money by touring,â they said.
âBut at a time when a global pandemic has kept artists from performing, many have had to give up their trades or face financial ruin. It doesn’t have to be like that, we have to create a level playing field or we risk losing a whole generation of talent. The next big thing might be here, but at the risk of giving it all up because they just can’t afford it. “
Proving the evidence at hearings, Spotify previously warned that rising subscription prices could push people into online piracy, while MPs accused a big label boss of “living in cloud cuckoo country” after claimed that artists were happy with the existing music streaming model.
SoundCloud, meanwhile, garnered praise earlier this year after announcing it would become the first streaming service to direct paying subscriber fees to the artists they listen to.
NME has contacted the government for comment.