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Elbow’s Guy Garvey tells MPs that streaming royalties threaten the future of music

Elbow’s Guy Garvey tells MPs that streaming royalties threaten the future of music

During the digital, culture, media and sport select committee inquiry into the economics of music streaming, MPs heard from musicians including Ed O’Brien of Radiohead, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, and Tom Gray of Gomez, who painted a bleak picture of artists struggling to survive.

The hearing followed pressure from the #BrokenRecord campaign, to investigate the “economic impact and long-term implications of streaming”

Garvey said the “system as it is, is threatening the future of music”, while equitable remuneration, increased transparency and user-centric streaming models were put forward as ways in which the industry could be reformed and made fairer for artists.

Gomez’s Tom Gray, who is the founder of #BrokenRecord Campaign, said some artists were still tied to contracts that included antiquated clauses, such as a 10% damage clause, which saw labels work on the assumption that 10% of CDs would be broken in transport.

An artist’s share is then worked out from the remaining 90%, despite the fact in the streaming age barely any CDs are sold.

MPs heard that the huge profits seen by major labels were not trickling down to artists who, in the case of Nadine Shah who also gave evidence, were struggling to make ends meet in the streaming era. Streaming was worth around £1bn last year, however, artists had been reportedly paid only 13% of the income generated.

Payouts from streaming

Many artists have argued that the music streaming giant’s payouts are simply not high enough. As of 2019, Spotify reported that they pay between $0.00331 and $0.00437 per stream to artists for their songs.

That means that 1000 streams of a track, although sounding impressive, will only generate $3.31 to $4.37 for the act.

The streaming industry is growing. In 2019, streaming revenues reached 11.4 billion U.S. dollars worldwide, the highest ever recorded and more than four times the figure given for 2015, when music streaming revenue amounted to 2.8 billion. Streaming revenues now account for over 56 percent of total global recorded music revenue.

If you want to support an artist…

If you genuinely want to support a band or musician, then you would be better off buying their physical product through their website, bandcamp site or record shop. A much greater share of the revenue will find its way back to the artist, meaning that they are able to carry on producing music.

During this Pandemic with many musicians unable to play live this is an increasingly important choice for music lovers.

Further reading

Streaming threatens the future of UK music

UK Government launches inquiry into streaming royalties

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