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Government inquiry into music streaming announced

Following campaigning by the Academy, the Musicians' Union and music creators the DCMS Select Committee has announced it will hold an inquiry into streaming.

The Ivors Academy and The Musicians’ Union have welcomed today’s announcement of a Government inquiry into streaming in the music industry and, in particular, the economic impact music streaming is having on artists and the sustainability of the wider music industry.

This announcement follows a joint campaign by the organisations to Fix Streaming and Keep Music Alive, which included a petition calling for a Government review that secured 17,000 signatures.

The campaign by The Ivors Academy and MU has run alongside the grassroots artist-led #BrokenRecord campaign led by musician, songwriter and Academy Director Tom Gray.

With streaming currently accounting for more than half of the global music industry’s revenue, the inquiry by the DCMS Select Committee will look at the business models operated by streaming platforms. Music streaming in the UK brings in more than £1 billion in revenue with 114 billion music streams in the last year, however the returns to artists are unacceptably low, and can be as little as 15% of the income generated.

Graham Davies, Chief Executive of the Ivors Academy, said:

“On behalf of all music creators we are delighted that Government will investigate the streaming market so it can work for all parts of the music industry. Most creators cannot make a living from streaming, it simply does not pay enough and millions of pounds each year is not properly allocated due to poor data. Following our campaigning with the Musicians’ Union, performers and creators to Fix Streaming this is an opportunity to create a transparent, fair and equitable approach.

“We have campaigned with songwriters, composers, musicians and our partners for this. It is an important step as it shows what we can achieve together – as a community of creators. But it is the beginning, and we are committed to making a strong case to the Select Committee that champions all music creators.”

Naomi Pohl, MU Deputy General Secretary, said:

“It is extremely welcome that the DCMS Select Committee has announced an inquiry into the economics of music streaming at a time when musicians are making very little money from live performance due to Covid-19. The Musicians’ Union and the Ivors Academy have been calling for a Government review because the current crisis has highlighted that the royalties generated by streaming are far too low and the market is failing the vast majority of our members. We hope this inquiry will show that a more equitable model is possible and that streaming royalties can and should play a significant role in sustaining the careers of creators and artists.”

The inquiry, expected to be held in November, will be calling on testimony from industry experts, artists and record labels as well as the streaming platforms.

The Committee will also consider whether the government should be taking action to protect the industry from piracy in the wake of steps taken by the EU on copyright and intellectual property rights.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

“While streaming is a growing and important part of the music industry contributing billions to global wealth, its success cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists. We’re asking whether the business models used by major streaming platforms are fair to the writers and performers who provide the material. Longer-term we’re looking at whether the economics of streaming could in future limit the range of artists and music that we’re all able to enjoy today.”

The DCMS Committee is inviting written submissions, with a deadline of Monday 16 November.

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