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U.K. STREAMING INQUIRY, TAKE II

In the second hearing of the U.K.’s inquiry into the economics of music streaming, Nile Rodgers accused labels and streaming services of lacking transparency about revenue earned by artists and writers.

Rodgers also accused streaming services of withholding money, remarking, “Every single time I've audited my partners, I find money. Every single time. And sometimes, it's staggering, the amount of money,” reports the BBC.

Rodgers argued for streams to be counted like radio broadcasts instead of sales. “Labels have unilaterally decided that a stream is considered a sale because it maximizes their profits,” he said. “Artists and songwriters need to update clauses in their contracts to reflect the true nature of how their songs are being consumed—which is via a license.”

Songwriter Fiona Bevan added, “The most successful songwriters in the world can’t pay their rent” due to the way royalties are currently paid. Revealing that she has earned a mere £100 from co-writing a track on Kylie Minogue’s recent U.K. #1 album, Disco, Bevan stated: “It's becoming increasingly difficult to make a living, largely due to the huge imbalance in how music streaming pays creators.

“Britain has produced some of the greatest songwriters on the world stage, but unless these problems with the economics of music streaming are solved, new up-and-coming talented songwriters will simply not be able to survive, and the outcome will be an obliteration of cultural and artistic diversity."

Songwriter and composer trade body The Ivors Academy submitted written evidence to the inquiry. The Ivors is asking the government to introduce regulation of international corporate groups, comprising labels and publishers with revenues of more than 5% of world markets, with a code of conduct designed to create parity with how collective management organizations—a type of licensing body that grants rights on behalf of multiple rights holders in a single ("blanket") licence for a single payment—are regulated. They also want a package of copyright reforms based on the principles of liability of online platforms to provide greater transparency, improved contract terms and fairer pay for writers and performers. 

Finally, they are asking for a time frame for the implementation of the reform of collective rights-management systems and of a minimum-viable-data standard for music recordings. This standard, the org says, should require the provision of basic metadata relating to the underlying composition so fewer streams fall into the un-allocable “black box.”

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