Streaming music is a modern day miracle, but it’s not just for musicians
Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan hopes to get his private member’s bill (the copyright (musicians’ rights and remuneration, etc.) bill) passed through Parliament, which would create a right to equitable remuneration for musicians.
I love streaming music. Who wouldn’t want to be able to access all the music in the world from one device in their back pocket? For those of us who grew up saving our pennies to buy David Bowie’s latest record, it’s a modern day miracle.
Because it’s great, millions of people are willing to pay for a subscription to access services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer.
Read more: Music revenue rose 6.8% to Â£ 1.6 billion last year, according to figures compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
So why am I proposing a new law in Parliament on how artists are treated in this new world of streaming? Ultimately, it’s about helping young talent from mainstream backgrounds have a fair chance at a career in music, not just the glory or bankruptcy of X Factor.
The problem is that the people whose creativity everyone appreciates, the musicians and the artists, are the ones who do not receive a fair reward, while others, the big foreign companies who run platforms and record labels, rake in a fortune.
Some people argue that because it’s easier and cheaper to record a track these days, there are just too many artists, which is why streaming pays so poorly. But in practice, the problem lies in the distribution of the available money paid by consumers.
When the new technology arrived, the big three record companies that control most of the music catalog made sure that the revenues were split in their favor, leaving artists and songwriters a small slice of the pie. From a consumer perspective, this all sounds like a lot, but how many of us realize that because of the way streaming services allocate it, a large chunk of our money often goes to music that we don’t. never listen to the artists we love?
For example, you might only have a few hours a month to listen to music, but when you do, you still listen to the Manic Street Preachers. But the artist’s share of your Â£ 10 won’t go to the Manics if other consumers have Spotify all day to listen to the latest hits. It’s different when you buy a record or CD because the artist’s share of that money will be reserved for the musician you love, no matter how often you play the record.
Streaming is therefore a whole new way of consuming music. In some ways it feels more like a radio than a record, especially when an algorithm keeps playing songs it thinks you might like but didn’t ask for.
What does all this have to do with parliament and the law? Good performers are paid for their work in the live concerts they give, or royalties for the use of their songs and recordings.
Over the past year and a half, live performances have been largely impossible due to government restrictions on Covid. Naturally, this has focused the musicians’ attention on what they get from their recordings and compositions.
Copyright law states that if you play on a record that is broadcast on the radio, you are entitled to compensation called “fair compensation”.
This same right does not apply in the UK if your recording is listened to on a streaming service like Spotify. My bill would update the law by creating a new right for musicians to an additional share of streaming revenue.
This is particularly timely because the stated goal of companies like Spotify is to replace radio as the medium through which people primarily listen to music. If this happens and the law remains the same, musicians will lose a small but valuable source of income that helps them supplement their other income from music.
It’s about creating the right structure for a secure musical career. I want young people to be able to aspire to make a reasonable living from original music. I want them to be able to make music that people will like and enjoy, and to get a fair share of the money people pay to listen to it.
In my constituency of Cardiff West, the fastest growing sector of the economy is the creative industries. Talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. Let’s be clear, not all talented people will be able to make a living from music, but there is something wrong with a system where record industry executives receive huge salaries and share options when talented artists are nominated. for prices can not pay their rent.
My Bill would play a small role in helping to create an environment where more talented people can have the opportunity to make a living from their creative skills. Fair play to bring fair compensation – that’s the goal.