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ON THE BMM COVER:
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STREAMING PAY DEBATE CONTINUES
12/13/23

Discontent over streaming royalty payouts remains in the U.K., where a series of industry execs and artists, including Merck Mercuriadis and Nile Rodgers, offered evidence at a session in Parliament.

Offered as a progress update following 2021’s Economics of Music Streaming report, Tuesday’s session yet again focused on compensation for creators.

Mercuriadis criticized the decision to set up an industry working group to explore issues and develop actions surrounding fair pay for creators. He called it a “missed opportunity” to instead create policy interventions, Music Week reported.

Rodgers criticized the major label’s defense of streaming rates, which centers on their investment in A&R and level of risk-taking. “I really hate the fact that they keep using that argument that is completely archaic. I hate to use words like ‘lie’—but it’s a lie,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

The days are “truly over” when an act like David Bowie would be given the amount of time to produce a hit record (his first Top 5 album in the U.K. was his fourth, Hunky Dory, in ’71), Rodgers added. Mercuriadis said that due to streaming data, labels don't ever take a gamble on artists who haven't yet proven their potential.

Others in the session included MPA CEO Paul Clements, who defended major publishers for not driving up publishing royalty rates. “The influence the majors have had has been a positive one,” he said, pointing out that they increased the rate to around 15% from 7-8% due to bilateral negotiations with platforms. “As the tide has risen, everybody else’s rates have increased—and there is a real misunderstanding about how that has worked.”