In the first session of the music streaming inquiry, which took place in November, creators and performers told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee why it’s time to fix streaming and keep music alive.
Successful creators are struggling to pay rent
Asked by Kevin Brennan MP, if I stream an album today how does that work for you, Tom Gray (Gomez) gave a clear answer: “I would get paid nothing.” He’s not the only one.
We’ve heard from MU members, performers, songwriters and composers, about how little streaming pays. It’s why we started the Keep Music Alive partnership and the Fix Streaming campaign with The Ivors’ Academy. And it’s why over 17,000 people signed a petition in support of a Government review.
Nadine Shah put it clearly when she said, “I don’t make enough money from streaming. I’m in a position now where I’m struggling to pay my rent and I’m embarrassed to talk about these issues publicly.
“I’m embarrassed to talk about them for many reasons because money is an indication of success. But here it’s not really the case with me because I am a successful musician, I’m just not being paid fairly for the work that I make.”
As Guy Garvey (Elbow) explained, “It is threatening the future of music. That sounds very dramatic. But if musicians can’t afford to pay the rent, can’t afford to live, then we haven’t got tomorrow’s music in place.”
Music is too important not to support
“We’re not after Robert Plant’s third limousine,” said Guy Garvey. “What we’re talking about here is allowing people to live as working artists. To provide something that we all need. Music’s not just something that soundtracks bits of your day. It’s an important social document. It either reflects, reacts, or provides escape from where we are in history and time. It documents what we are as a species. It’s too important to not fund.”
And the UK is good at it. Tom Gray put it like this: “We’re genuinely world beating at it. It’s an incredible driver of GVA and exports. And brings us soft power in the world. It’s something we need to nurture and protect. There’s over 50,000 professional musicians, entrepreneurial, self employed musicians in this country… and they live in every constituency in this country. But we know from survey data over half of them earn under £20,000 a year.”
“This is happening while a few multinational corporations, foreign based corporations, are making the most money, the best growth, the best profit margins they’ve ever made,” he added.
“It just needs some parity and fairness in the system. Artists, as your gathering, are not really profiting from the spoils of this,” explained Ed O’Brien (Radiohead).
Together we can fix streaming and keep music alive
MPs on the music streaming inquiry don’t just want to hear from famous names like Nadine Shah, Guy Garvey, Ed O’Brien and Tom Gray. They want to hear from you too.
If you’ve got five minutes, email email@example.com in support of the Musicians’ Union submission using our template email.
If you’ve got a little more time, why not give your own evidence in writing? It might seem daunting, but we’ve put together a guide to giving evidence in partnership with the Ivors Academy that will help.
Like Nadine said, “It’s entirely possible to fix streaming and to make it work for everyone; the labels, the streaming platforms, and the artists… It has to be made fairer. Because right now, it’s wrong. And it’s unfair.”