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Music makers to continue making the case for fair payment rights in the wake of Brennan Bill debate

Sarah Angel Sarah Angel, by Jonathan Stewart photography

Musicians, artists and performers across the UK will continue the campaign to fix streaming despite Kevin Brennan MP’s Copyright (Rights And Remuneration Of Musicians) Private Member’s Bill not progressing.

The reforms included in Kevin Brennan MP’s Copyright (Rights And Remuneration Of Musicians) Private Member’s Bill would have followed-up on the key recommendations made by the cross-party group of MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee during their in-depth inquiry into the ‘Economics of music streaming.’

The Bill’s central aim was to “ensure performers and composers are properly remunerated, by placing the treatment of revenue gained from music streaming services onto a common footing with the treatment of revenue gained from other sources.” The Bill mirrored the calls from the Musicians’ Union, The Ivors Academy and the #BrokenRecord campaign to ensure that music makers in the UK receive a fairer share of streaming revenues.

In the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 20,000 musicians and music creators applied to music industry hardship funds and this sparked the #FixStreaming and #BrokenRecord campaigns, which call for recorded music to play its part in supporting careers.

During the debate, MPs from parties across the House spoke passionately about the importance of supporting musicians and fixing streaming, and the Minister spoke of the Government’s determination to “continue to explore and modernise” the UK’s copyright law.

Looking ahead, the Musicians’ Union, The Ivors Academy and #BrokenRecord campaign will continue to push for the Government to update copyright law in order to ensure that the UK’s fantastic musicians are fairly and properly rewarded for their work.

Kevin Brennan MP, who sponsored the Bill, said:

“Although the Government has chosen not to back my Bill today which would bring copyright law up to date and reform music streaming to the benefit of UK musicians, I am pleased that it has not ruled out legislation and is committed to a programme of research into the issues raised. Equitable remuneration for performers is already in effect, or currently being implemented, in territories across Europe, while British creators continue to struggle financially. I will continue to push for legislative solutions to make sure that music makers in the UK receive a fairer share of streaming revenues, helping to make the UK the best place in the world to be a musician. I believe that reform is coming even if we may have to wait a little longer than hoped.”

Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, said:

“Today’s debate of the Brennan Bill is a landmark moment on the path to the inevitable modernisation of the music industry. The Government accepted that reform must take place to level-up payments for music makers. It is not a matter of if this reform happens but how.

For the UK to be the best place in the world to create music we need to strike a new balance of power between those who innovate and those who invest in music. We take forward Kevin Brennan’s work and his call on the Government to establish equity in the UK.”

Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said:

“We’re immensely grateful to Kevin Brennan and all the MPs, musicians, songwriters, composers, session players and featured artists who have supported the call to fix streaming. The debate in Parliament demonstrated that support for fixing streaming bridges party divides, and in his speech the Minister made it clear that Government is open to introducing legislation to reform copyright in the event that the industry doesn’t find a solution voluntarily.

“It’s by no means the end of the Fix Streaming campaign. Musicians’ Union members along with The Ivors Academy and #BrokenRecord have won a Select Committee inquiry and a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority so far. We look forward to taking an active role in ongoing work led by the IPO which could address issues such as the lack of transparency and fair remuneration in music streaming.

“We will continue to put pressure on the Government and music industry to make the streaming system fairer and put the value of music back where it belongs – in our members’ hands.”

Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said:

“We are heartened by the support we’ve received from many MPs across the political spectrum, and the level of engagement from the Minister. Although the Brennan Bill did not pass today, the door has been left open to legislation in the future if other solutions cannot be found.

“We are grateful for the Government’s positive engagement with the DCMS Select Committee inquiry into streaming, its response to their recommendations, and the commitment made to investigate competition issues in music. We look forward to playing an active role and ensuring the voices of our members are heard in this process. We will keep fighting the good fight, keep the pressure on Government, and are determined to resolve the many issues with the current economics of music streaming.”

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