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ARTISTS SPEAK UP FOR BETTER STREAMING RATES

Streaming rates are under scrutiny in the U.K., with the first evidence session of the British government’s inquiry into the economics of streaming having taken place Tuesday, 11/24. Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey were among the witnesses calling for equitable remuneration.   

O’Brien, Garvey, solo artist Nadine Shah, musician and songwriter Tom Gray, streaming auditor and accountant Colin Young and Clintons Solicitors Partner Tom Frederikse outlined the current economics of streaming for MPs and explained their impact on the wider music ecosystem.

The musicians testified that streaming does not pay enough to creators. Garvey went so far as to say that the current system is “threatening the future of music,” while Shah admitted that, despite how successful she may appear to be, she doesn’t make enough from music to “keep the wolf away from the door.”  

Reforms are needed, argued witnesses, with Gray, Young and Frederikse all proposing equitable remuneration for streaming. As music:ally notes, equitable remuneration already exists in the U.K. for royalties paid from broadcast use of music—collecting society PPL splits these 50/50 between labels and artists. The speakers argued for legislation that applies that system to passive streams, which they said is more akin to radio.   

Young suggested that royalties paid through streaming could be partly counted in line with the physical model and partly as public performance, as happens in publishing. “Streaming is fundamentally different to the physical model,” he said. “What is being suggested is that distinction be made. Should part be physical and should part be public performance? And that’s where equitable remuneration would kick in, if you make the same distinction as we do in publishing.”  

Future sessions will hear from labels and streaming services. 

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