The announcement follows months of campaigning. Thousands of music creators have called out the #BrokenRecord industry, and trade bodies The Ivors Academy and the MU have been campaigning to #FixStreaming and Keep Music Alive, arguing that the disappearance of the live sector has highlighted just how broken the streaming market is. In May the organisations launched a petition, which now has just under 15,000 signatures, calling for a Government review of music streaming to ensure it is equitable and transparent for the whole music ecosystem.
On 23rd July the UK Government published their first report on the inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport sectors. One of the recommendations says that “The Department [for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] should investigate how the market for recorded music is operating in the era of streaming to ensure that music creators are receiving a fair reward.” It would appear the regulators are acknowledging that the market could be skewed against music creators – the same creators without whom there would be no product to sell.
Crispin Hunt, Chair of The Ivors Academy, said “When it comes to music streaming, we are witnessing market failure. It is simply unacceptable that talented music creators, who are the bedrock of the music industry, are being squeezed out of their profession. The recorded music market isn’t fit for the digital era, and it’s about time something was done about it. We welcome the chance to work with Government on exposing the system’s flaws and ensuring music can return to being a viable career choice.”
Naomi Pohl, Deputy Secretary of the MU said, “It is very welcome that the Select Committee have identified an issue to be investigated regarding the distribution of streaming royalties. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted that revenue generated by streaming fails to trickle down to the majority of musicians. We also believe that session musicians, who currently receive no streaming royalties, should be factored into any new apportionment. We would like to see a full inquiry and a fairer distribution of streaming royalties for all artists, creators and performers.”
Last year, the IFPI announced that 56% of $20bn global recorded music revenue came from streaming. The crucial issue which seems to have sparked the Government’s interest is that the market is thriving, yet revenue is concentrated within a handful of corporations. Meanwhile those who make the music we stream are facing a battle for survival. Many have spoken out about just how little streaming pays. Acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little OBE, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, explained that she has 755,000 monthly listeners, which equates to about 5 to 6 million streams in six months – and gets paid just £12.34 for it.
The Ivors Academy of Music Creators and the MU are calling on the Government to carry out a formal inquiry to provide more transparency of the streaming market and provide a route to reforming business practices so that music creators can sustain a living and continue to create the music we love which is the source of the music industry’s success.