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News October 16, 2020

U.K. parliament launches inquiry into streaming services

Senior Journalist, B2B
U.K. parliament launches inquiry into streaming services

The pittance paid out by streaming music services will be put to the test in the U.K., where MPs are preparing an inquiry into the big players.

From next month, parliament will examine what economic impact music streaming is having on artists, record labels and “the sustainability of the wider music industry,” as part of a landmark probe into Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play and others.

The “Economics of music streaming” examination promises to be more than a talking shop.

Based on its findings, MPs will be expected to consider whether government should take action “to protect the industry from piracy in the wake of steps taken by the EU on copyright and intellectual property rights,” reads a statement issued by Britain’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Industry professionals, artists, record labels and reps from the streaming platforms are invited to submit written responses, with a deadline of Monday, 16th November.

Among the many themes under the microscope, MPs ask whether algorithmic curation influences consumer habits and tastes, and questions are asked on the economic impact and long-term implications of streaming on the music industry, and how can policy favour more equitable business models.

Image of a person using the Spotify app, Spotify new local MD

Spotify

DCMS committee chair Julian Knight MP said the growth of the streaming market “cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists”.

Britain’s recorded music industry is, like other Top 10 markets, heavily reliant on the income from streaming platforms.

It’s an industry which generated revenue of just under £1.1 billion ($2 billion) in 2019, up by 7.3% on the previous year, according to data published by BPI, the U.K. equivalent of ARIA.

Streaming powered the market, pulling in £629 million ($1.14 billion), at an annual growth rate of 22%.

The picture is a similar one in Australia.

In 2019, the Aussie record business rolled to a fifth successive year of gains, according to ARIA wholesale data, with revenue up by 5.5 per cent to $555 million.

Streaming was the cash cow, raking in $445 million, a $70 million rise on the previous-year figure.

While the numbers are encouraging, if not thrilling, considering the global industry was in a decade-long death-roll when Spotify came along, the backlash is mounting within the artist community.

Creators everywhere want a fair cut of the pie.

YouTube Marketing

YouTube

With a typical play on a streaming platform netting an artist less than 0.005 cents, a song needs to be streamed 1,000 times to make back the cost of an average coffee in W.A.

Musicians who make a career out of their craft are rare, according to a study titled “Global Music Streaming And its Impacts on the Local, Original Music Communities.”

Less than 8,000 Australians make music as their sole source of income, and the average musician earns just $7,200 each year, the 2019 report found.

After crunching the numbers, researchers concluded one million streams on YouTube earns an artist approximately $690, the same number of hits on Spotify about $4,370, and Apple Music is around $7,350. Many artists won’t see anything like a million streams for their songs.

On the royalties that flow down, “I couldn’t afford a muffin a month on that,” Gin Wigmore told TIO. “It’s pretty rough.”

Artists everywhere will watch for the results of the parliamentary inquiry as though their livelihoods depend on it.

Read more here.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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