The U.K.’s streaming music market could be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up following a scathing report delivered by parliament.
Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and the plethora of players in the streaming space aren’t the only businesses who take a beating in the Economics of music streaming, published Wednesday.
Major labels are roundly criticised for their part.
“Streaming has undoubtedly helped save the music industry following two decades of digital piracy but it is clear that what has been saved does not work for everyone,” according to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) findings, which stretch across 25 pages.
The issues “ostensibly created by streaming simply reflect more fundamental, structural problems within the recorded music industry,” the report continues.
“Streaming needs a complete reset.”
Among its top five recommendations is the call for government to enact legislation so performers can enjoy “the right to equitable remuneration for streaming income.”
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And in a blow to the majors, government is urged to refer a case to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to launch a full market study into the economic impact of the majors’ dominance.
The independent music community welcomed the development.
According to IMPALA, some of its recommendations are in line with the pan-European lobby body’s own assessment of the streaming economy, which laid the groundwork for these new insights.
The DCMS report “touches upon very important questions surrounding the music market as a whole, and it is crucial to look at different options,” says Helen Smith, IMPALA’s Executive Chair, in a statement. “There are many opportunities to make streaming fairer for all, and we see music services and streaming platforms as our key partners for doing so.”
Based on its newly-published findings, MPs will be expected to consider whether government should take action “to protect the industry from piracy in the wake of steps taken by the EU on copyright and intellectual property rights.”
The Government now has two months to respond to the report. Should it do so, the U.K., a traditional Top 5-ranked recorded music market will become the first to try fix what many have said is a “broken” streaming model, one that disadvantages artists and lines the pockets of tech companies and their content partners.
The findings are the culmination of a process that began in October 2020, when members of parliament launched a landmark examination into the economic impact of music streaming on artists, record labels and “the sustainability of the wider music industry.”
Industry professionals, artists, record labels and reps from the streaming platforms were invited to submit written responses. More than 100 submissions changed hands.
Calls for a fairer streaming model have reached a crescendo over the past year, and they’re loudest in a country already coping with Brexit and the pandemic.
Music streaming in the U.K. brought in more than £1 billion in revenue and generated 114 billion music streams, explains a parliamentary primer, however artists can be paid as little as 13% of the income generated.
The biggest acts in British music history signed up for the #BrokenRecord campaign earlier in the year, which petitioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson to solve the problem.
Separately, in March, the United Musicians and Allied Workers Union organised a series of global protests under the banner, “Justice at Spotify.”
The Union and other artist advocates are calling for a royalty hike to a penny-per-stream, transparent contracts, a user-centric payment model, and to stop fighting artists in the courts.
The Economics of music streaming is a wide-angle look at the industry, the market power of the three big music companies, algorithms, the “value gap” and more.
What happens next in the U.K., if anything, would set the precedent for other territories to follow, including Australia.
Read it here.