MPs and musicians back Private Member’s Bill to change streaming laws but BPI says the bill ‘misunderstands today’s music business’


MPs and musicians have voiced their support for a new Bill which aims to ensure artists are “fairly paid” for streams of their music. But the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) says the Bill “completely misunderstands today’s music business” and would bind the sector in “red tape.”

The Bill, published this week, is backed by the Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy for songwriters and composers, and sponsored by MP Kevin Brennan.

Sex Pistols founding bassist Glen Matlock and former X Factor contestant Rebecca Ferguson, as well as members of both industry groups, were joined by 30 MPs in Parliament Square to highlight the Bill.

It would introduce a right to equitable remuneration for streaming income – where performers have a right to receive a share without reference to their label contracts.

The Bill’s central aim, according to its supporters, is to “ensure performers and composers are properly remunerated, by placing the treatment of revenue gained from music streaming services on to a common footing with the treatment of revenue gained from other sources”.

It is due to be presented to Parliament on Friday December 3.

However, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK independent and major record labels association, said the Bill “completely misunderstands today’s music business” and would bind the sector in “red tape”.

Officially titled the Copyright (Rights And Remuneration Of Musicians) Private Member’s Bill, it comes amid increased awareness of streaming royalties due to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry in the economics of streaming.

The committee’s report previously warned that “pitiful returns” from the current system are impacting the “entire creative ecosystem” and ministers subsequently referred the case of the market dominance of major record labels to the Competition and Markets Authority.

A spokesman for the BPI said in a statement:

“This Bill would bind British music in red tape, reduce income for the most entrepreneurial artists, stifle investment and innovation by record labels, and disproportionately harm the independent sector.

“It would create huge uncertainty and deny many of the next generation of artists their shot to build a career. It completely misunderstands today’s music business, and the value that labels provide in finding and nurturing talent.

“Labels are committed to ensuring artists are rewarded in line with their success from streaming, but just as British music is finally climbing out of its long downturn, this misguided, outdated regulation would be a damaging step backwards, eroding the foundations of the UK’s extraordinary global success in music.”

Mr Brennan, who is sponsoring the Bill, said:

“More and more people are streaming music – heightened by the pandemic – yet, unlike for radio, there is no guaranteed royalty payment for all the musicians who have contributed to the recording being streamed.

“To redress this, my Private Member’s Bill seeks to allow performers and composers to access means to ensure a fair sharing of revenues generated from their works.

“In particular, the Bill will introduce a right to equitable remuneration for performers on musical works, where works that they have performed upon are made available to the public.

“These reforms would lead to more new music, the revival of recording studios, a boost to the UK session music scene, the unearthing of a new generation of British talent, and Britain becoming once again a world-leading cultural hub for the recorded music industry.”

The deputy general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, Naomi Pohl, said:

“The domination of the major music groups in the streaming market is clear. Musicians and songwriters are not getting a fair enough deal and legislative reform is overdue.

“Now is the time to address the imbalances in the music industry and in music streaming in particular. We are calling on the Government to allow a free vote on the Brennan Bill on 3rd December.

“Members across the House of Commons have already voiced their support for the Bill, showing the depth of bipartisan commitment to fixing streaming to ensure performers are fairly paid for their streamed music.”

Graham Davies, chief executive of The Ivors Academy, said:

“On behalf of songwriters and composers our thanks go to Kevin Brennan and MPs from all parties who understand that Britain’s place as a cultural powerhouse rests on investing in people that actually make music.

“The growth of the streaming market has diverted too much wealth to multinational record labels at the expense of music makers.

“These market distortions must be fixed in order to grow Britain’s enviable music sector.”


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