skip to main content

Competition and Markets Authority Says Low Pay From Music Streaming Not a Competition Issue

The Competition and Markets Authority has published its final report after campaigning by the Musicians’ Union, the Ivors Academy and Broken Record.

Published: 30 November 2022 | 9:28 AM
Musician protesters with Fix Streaming plackards
Musicians and the MU at the Brennan Bill Demo Parliament calling out for #FixStreaming. Photo: Musicians' Union

In its final report on music streaming, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that low pay from music streaming is not being driven by the level of concentration of the recording market.

The CMA says: “Analysis found that neither record labels nor streaming services are likely to be making significant excess profits that could be shared with creators. Consequently, the issues concerning creators would not be addressed by measures intended to improve competition, but instead would need other policy measures in order to be addressed.”

In the CMA’s view, they can not help release additional money into the system to pay musicians and music creators more. That said, their report highlights that the issues raised could be solved by Government and stakeholders via the contact and technical groups established by DCMS as a result of the music streaming inquiry, or through legislation – a solution that was left  on the table after the Brennan Bill debate on 3 December 2021.

Ensuring a fair share of streaming revenue reaches musicians

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl says:

“The CMA have primarily focused on how music streaming works for consumers. They highlight a real terms drop in pricing, for example, which may be great for consumers in the short term but is bad news for creators and the music industry. In time, this could lead to fewer musicians making a living from music or at least a less diverse range of musicians. We don't want a career in music to become the preserve of the rich.

Our primary focus is ensuring a fair share of streaming revenue reaches musicians and the CMA say this is an issue for policy-makers to look at.

“It is clear that the CMA’s findings do not reflect the reality that many of our members experience. Musicians are experiencing a cost of living crisis on top of the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit, while the three major labels are making billions."

“Our primary focus is ensuring a fair share of streaming revenue reaches musicians and the CMA say this is an issue for policy-makers to look at. The IPO is looking at this issue currently and we will continue to argue strongly for a fairer deal for our members, many of whom earn very little from music streaming at present.”

Read more about the union’s ongoing lobbying work to fix streaming, and catch up with the latest from the DCMS Select Committee on keeping music alive.

Key findings from the CMA Report 

The CMA’s final report says:

  • There were around 39 million monthly listeners in the UK, streaming 138 billion times a year.
  • Over 60% of streams were of music recorded by only the top 0.4% of artists.
  • An artist could expect to earn around £12,000 from 12 million streams in the UK in 2021, but less than 1% of artists achieve that level of streams.

“Whilst individual deals can vary considerably, the report highlighted on average royalty rates in major deals with artists have increased steadily from 19.7% in 2012 to 23.3% in 2021. For songwriters, the share of revenues going to publishing rights has increased significantly from 8% in 2008 to 15% in 2021,” argues the CMA.

Read the full report and supporting documents on the CMA website.


CMA Market Study timeline

July 2021

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee publishes its revolutionary music streaming inquiry report. One of the recommendations made by the cross party group of MPs is for the Government to refer music streaming to the

February 2022

The CMA launches a study into music streaming as a result of the Fix Streaming campaign led by the Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy, and Broken Record campaign led by MU member and The Ivors Academy Chair Tom Gray.

Over six months, they receive submissions on the potential scope of the study and met with key stakeholders to discuss competition issues within the streaming market. The MU makes a detailed written submission to the CMA, and MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl meets with CMA representatives to outline the Union's take on the streaming market.

July 2022

The CMA announces they will not be going ahead with a full investigation. Their decision is met with criticism from artists and politicians as well as the MU.

Labour and Co-operative MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Lucy Powell says: “Our creative industries can help power growth in the economy, but the failure of the government to act threatens our world leading position… The long term future for UK music depends on a better deal for musicians from streaming. The CMA and Ministers must do more to give creators security and act if the industry fails to do so.”

August 2022

As part of the process, the CMA consults on the proposal not to do a full investigation and the union encourages members to take part with key points for the CMA to consider


Take urgent action to fix streaming

Ask your MP to put the value of music back where it belongs – in your hands

Take urgent action to fix streaming

Continue reading

Get MU membership today

From gig players to part-time teachers and professional instrumentalists, MU members can access specialist insurance for musicians. This includes accident cover, health schemes, travel insurance and car insurance add-ons through the Musicians’ Union.

Explore our member services

  • Get public liability insurance for musicians
  • Access expert legal support
  • Be represented in your profession
  • Access expert career advice, resources, and training events
  • Connect, network, and get to know the community of musicians

Learn about all membership benefits

Get MU membership today