The U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has launched a probe to determine the impacts of music streaming on artists, record labels and other stakeholders.
The Committee will investigate streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play. They note that revenue generated by the industry exceeded £1 billion from 114 billion streams in 2019, but artist payouts can be as low as 13% of the total income for on-demand music listening services.
“While streaming is a growing and important part of the music industry contributing billions to global wealth, its success cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists,” said DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP.
“Algorithms might benefit platforms in maximizing income from streaming but they are a blunt tool to operate in a creative industry with emerging talent risking failing the first hurdle,” he went on. “We’re asking whether the business models used by major streaming platforms are fair to the writers and performers who provide the material. Longer-term we’re looking at whether the economics of streaming could in future limit the range of artists and music that we’re all able to enjoy today.”
The DCMS, a cross-party group of MPs, will also try to determine whether lawmakers should take action to protect musicians and labels from piracy in light of EU decisions that have affected intellectual property rights.
The announcement comes after a Change.org petition for streaming services to raise their stream payout to 1¢ amassed over 75,000 signatures. The description notes that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, a billionaire, remarked in an interview that “You can’t record every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough” to support oneself as a musician, despite it typically costing thousands of dollars to record and promote music.
The DCMS are looking for input from artists, record labels and industry experts whom they encourage to submit evidence via the U.K. parliamentary website.
Image credit: Sara Kurfeß