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MUSICIANS DEMAND “FAIR” ROYALTIES

Songwriters, composers and musicians in the U.K. have launched a campaign urging stakeholders to create an “equitable, sustainable and transparent” model for royalty distribution in the streaming era. Helmed by the Ivors Academy and the Musicians’ Union, the Keep Music Alive campaign aims to highlight how challenging it is to make an income from streaming alone.

Keep Music Alive has been launched in response to the financial challenges faced by musicians when income from the live industry has stalled as a result of the coronavirus crisis. As a first step, the Keep Music Alive campaign has set up a petition calling on the British Government to urgently undertake a review of streaming to ensure that the music ecosystem is transparent and fair.

The orgs highlight that it would take 62m Spotify streams to break even on a £25,000 loss—a figure that is unattainable for most music creators. (Songwriter and composer members of The Ivors Academy anticipate a loss of £25,000 per person over a six-month period.) 

In addition, both organizations point to press reports about profits at the major labels, including the BPI’s record label income figures for 2019, which rose 7.3% thanks to streaming. This, they say, shows that some are enjoying “enormous profits” on the back of the work of songwriters, composers and performers.

“Music creators are clear that the industry must change. The current models are broken,” Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies said. “It is wrong for a few corporations to make billions from streaming while thousands of creators seek hardship support as their livelihoods evaporate.”

Since early March, more than 20,000 applications have been filed to receive music industry hardship funds. Musicians represented through the MU have reported more than £21m of lost income since the COVID-19 lockdown came into force, and one in five respondents to a survey said they were considering leaving music altogether.

Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the MU, noted,  “Musicians should not be so dependent on their income from gigging and music teaching that when it falls away they are literally unable to pay their bills within weeks. The recorded music industry must play its part in shoring up the individuals on whose talent and creativity it so heavily relies. “We have been asking for a fairer deal on streaming for years and it is long overdue. Our members can no longer accept the record labels taking the biggest share of income. We have to fix streaming now.”

Crispin Hunt, Chair of the Ivors Academy, concluded: “We cannot go back to the old, broken industry when the immediate crisis is over. It’s time to create something that works for everyone.”

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