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Significant public support for streaming reform in YouGov survey for the #BrokenRecord campaign

Consumers want creators and performers to receive more money from music streaming and will accept higher subscriptions if the system is reformed.

Songwriters BrokenRecord YougGov survey

A YouGov survey commissioned by #BrokenRecord Campaign in association with the Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy reveals that a large majority of consumers believe the share received by creators and performers from digital music streaming is unfair.

It shows they would prefer their subscriptions to be distributed differently and, were it to be reformed, an increasing amount would be willing to pay more for their service.

The #BrokenRecord campaign, led by songwriter and artist Tom Gray, is highly critical of the streaming market’s failure to provide music creators with sufficient income and has been gaining momentum since the outbreak of Covid19.

In their own response to the crisis, soon after the Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy launched a #FixStreaming initiative. Following calls from both campaigns, and a successful #FixStreaming petition, the DCMS Select Committee have asked the Government to open an investigation into the streaming market.

The headline results from the YouGov survey of the current distribution of streaming subscription fees are:

77% say artists are not paid enough.

76% believe songwriters are underpaid.

81% would like session musicians to receive some share of streaming revenue.  

83% are of the opinion that most record labels are paid too much.   

68% say the streaming platforms are overpaid. 

When asked if they’d be willing to pay more for their streaming subscription under the current distribution model, a majority of consumer respondents initially said no (69%).

However, of those who said no, approximately half would pay more if their subscription went directly to songwriters and artists they listened too.

Tom Gray, founder of the #BrokenRecord campaign, said,

“These statistics show, inarguably, that consumers want a fairer share of streaming income to go to artists, songwriters and musicians. The system is unethical and unsustainable and needs to be sorted out by the industry or, if necessary, via Government intervention.”

Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, commented,

“It is fantastic that a strong paid-for streaming market has grown over the past 15 years and further growth is predicted for the future, in spite of Covid-19. But with increasing numbers of consumers paying a monthly subscription we must ensure that the increasing streaming profits are matched with fair payment to the creators of the music. These survey results are an important contribution to dialogue taking place in the music industry on what an equitable and progressive distribution of streaming wealth should be.”

The Musicians’ Union (MU) has long been campaigning for a royalty for backing musicians from streaming, arguing that they should receive a share of a track’s success.  The YouGov survey, which spoke to a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 British adults, showed that 60% of streaming consumers felt playlist streaming is more akin to radio than listening to a CD.

Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the MU, said,

“Backing musicians are usually paid a small upfront fee for playing on a track, but it is often royalty payments that keep them going and in the music business.  Streaming doesn’t pay any royalties to these musicians, but we argue that it should; if services seek to cannibalise other listening media such as radio, then they should pay an equivalent royalty.”

The #BrokenRecord Campaign has highlighted that streaming services such as Spotify have not increased their pricing in a decade, leading Tom Gray to claim it is a broken market. He stated,

“Streaming services have never increased their prices in line with inflation. Consumers are clearly more comfortable to see a rise in their subscription should the system be reformed. Covid19 has decimated creator incomes. Not just the top 1% should be able to make a decent living from streaming and a rise in price could go a long way to improving things, especially if it was distributed equitably. Careers need to be fed and watered – and we’re presently in danger of losing a whole generation of talent.”

Chair of The Ivors Academy, Crispin Hunt, welcomed the results, saying,

“What music now needs is a dramatic reinvention of the outdated manufacturing business models that still prevail. Everyone in the music industry knows that streaming does not currently sustain the careers of most creators. Put simply, not enough of the streaming money paid by the consumer is trickling down to the creators who drive the value. As this YouGov poll makes clear, consumers thankfully agree.” 

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