UK musicians are joining together to demand that the government reform the music industry’s payment structure, which they state unfairly benefits streaming giants.
The Rolling Stones and Tom Jones are among the 234 signatories on an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson maintaining that UK law “has not kept up with the pace of technological change” in terms of payment calculations for artists, BBC reported.
“Today’s musicians receive very little income from their performances — most featured artists receive tiny fractions of a US cent per stream and session musicians receive nothing at all,” the letter — which is also signed by Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Jessie Ware, the estate of Joe Strummer, rapper Kano and the rock band Wolf Alice — goes on.
A fix to the situation would be simple, they write: “Only two words needs to change” in the 988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act to require that streaming services pay musicians in an approximate way to how radio stations do. Namely, it would enact what is known as equitable remuneration and cause royalties to be split evenly between label and artist.
“Streaming is not radio. It is a new form of exploitation. However, in broadcasting, performers are guaranteed payment, irrespective of contracts, because of ‘equitable remuneration,’ ” musician Tom Gray wrote on Twitter in explanation. “We take the view that streaming has replaced the sales model but is also replacing secondary usages such as radio with algorithmic playlisting etc and musicians should retain the rights they held in radio or see them disappear.”
A Department of Culture, Media and Sport committee is looking into the issue, gathering information on the fairness of money generation and distribution tactics of Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Spotify and other industry behemoths.
In a similar investigation completed by the World Intellectual Property Organization, researchers found that “for many artists, the extraordinarily low or no streaming payments are unsustainable and unacceptable.”