In July, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it would not be going ahead with a full market investigation of music streaming. This decision is hugely disappointing, but it’s not finalised yet.
The CMA is consulting on their proposal not to do a market investigation.
The MU will be sending in a submission urging the CMA to reconsider – and you have until the close of 19 August 2022 to do the same.
Email email@example.com with your comments.
Please include your experience and perspective of the issues as a songwriter, composer, performer, and/or independent artist.
The case for a market study
Here’s a summary of the key points we think the CMA should consider:
- Effective competition is not possible in the streaming market. This is because platforms like Spotify, whose main business is music streaming, are competing with platforms like Apple and Amazon who make their money from selling services and products. This results in static pricing and consequently the suppression of royalties. Like dairy farmers who would otherwise be at the mercy of supermarket pricing and lose their livelihoods, some form of market intervention is needed to ensure fairness for those who create music.
- Majors are incentivised to act contrary to the interests of songwriters. Due to the relative royalty rates in recording and publishing deals, it is in the interests of major corporations that have recording and publishing arms to ensure that more revenue goes via their record label and less goes via their publisher.
- Licensing deals major labels do with the platforms are not transparent. This lack of visibility of deals between the major labels and the platforms disadvantages anyone trying to compete with them.
- The share of revenue going to publishing is effectively controlled by the majors. When streaming services were first established, the major labels negotiated their share of streaming revenue with the platforms before the publishers and independents negotiated theirs. This set a low benchmark for the publishers’ share. As a result, there was and still is little left for others in the market – and makes the market uncompetitive.
- Keeping the share of revenue received by other publishers low means songwriters do not have the level of choice assumed by the CMA Update paper. This is a result of a market that is not working – and why the Fix Streaming and Broken Record campaigns exist; the alternative to trying to fix a broken market is to leave it altogether.
More detailed information on all of these points may be found in submissions from the MU and The Ivors Academy.
Together we can fix streaming
The CMA market study is just one strand of work to fix streaming and keep music alive.
Since May 2020, together we have:
- Won a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into music streaming
- Brought together over 225 high profile artists including Sir Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Beverley Knight, Annie Lennox, Yoko Ono, Kate Bush and Kano to write to the Prime Minister in support of streaming
- Forced Government to take action, including industry contact and technical groups working towards a solution, research into different aspects of music streaming such as the impact of algorithms, and the CMA referral
- Won cross-party support of MPs from all four nations
- Taken the Brennan Bill to Parliament
- Delivered a letter to 10 Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister to fix streaming
- Got that backing of workers across the trade union movement, across the UK
- Won a commitment from the Minister to legislate for change if an industry solution isn’t found
- Inspired commitments from the three major labels to deliver royalties to unrecouped heritage artists
- Raised the issue in person with the Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and received vocal support from the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
This progress is down to you and your coming together under the Fix Streaming and Broken Record banners.
We are up against powerful interest groups who do not want to fix streaming. But working together, we are closer to a solution than we have ever been.
Find out more in General Secretary Naomi Pohl’s latest campaign update.