Covid-19 has hit songwriters, musicians and composers hard. Gigs and commissions have been cancelled, festivals and performances postponed, and recording studios closed.
Since early March, over 20,000 applications have been received to music industry Hardship Funds. This crisis has brought into sharp relief the fact that creators and performers are sustained primarily by income generated by the live side of the music business and that streaming royalties are woefully insufficient.
Thousands of musicians and music creators have taken to Twitter to highlight this issue, using the hashtags #BrokenRecord and #FixStreaming.
MU members have reported over £21m of lost income since the Covid-19 lockdown came into force and members of The Ivors Academy anticipate a loss of £25,000 per person over a six-month period. It would take 62 million Spotify streams to break even on a £25,000 loss, a figure that is unattainable for most music creators. One in five respondents to an MU survey said they were considering leaving music altogether.
The Keep Music Alive campaign aims to ‘fix streaming’ and calls for industry stakeholders to come together to agree an equitable, sustainable and transparent model for royalty distribution in the streaming era.
As a first step, the two organisations have set up a petition calling on Government to urgently undertake a review of streaming to ensure that the music ecosystem is transparent and fair.
Sign the petition now
Our members can no longer accept the record labels taking the biggest share of income
Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the MU, said:
“Musicians shouldn’t be so dependent on their income from gigging and music teaching that when it falls away they are literally unable to pay their bills within weeks.
“The recorded music industry must play its part in shoring up the individuals on whose talent and creativity it so heavily relies. We have been asking for a fairer deal on streaming for years and it is long overdue.
“Our members can no longer accept the record labels taking the biggest share of income. We have to fix streaming now.”
MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge added that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the issue:
"The fact that musicians and songwriters are having to ask the government for financial help at a time when the major record companies are publishing record profits from streaming is a clear indication that something is wrong with the streaming payment model.
"We want the government to shine a torch into the murky corners of the streaming payment model to find out why the money isn’t getting through to the people who make the music."