Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Chris Martin, More Demand That Streaming Music Platforms Pay More

Paul McCartney High in the Clouds
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Paul McCartney High in the Clouds
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Paul McCartney, one of the 150 or so musicians who signed a letter calling for the UK government to reform the streaming space. Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius / CC by 2.0

High-profile artists including Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, The Who’s Roger Daltrey, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin have called on the UK government to implement far-reaching reforms in the music-streaming space.

The formal demand for streaming reform arrived in the form of an open letter (spearheaded by the Musicians’ Union and the Broken Record campaign) as well as a petition, both of which were addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Approximately 150 artists signed off on the letter, including Paul McCartney (who criticized streaming compensation rates last month) and the other above-mentioned backers, besides Tim Burgess, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks, Brian Eno, and Nadine Shah, to name some.

Shah, it bears highlighting, appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee back in November of 2020, as part of an investigation into streaming royalties. During the remote testimony – one of several that the House of Commons’ select committee heard – the “Trad” creator said that she was struggling to pay her rent despite having more than 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

The aforementioned open letter to Prime Minister Johnson promptly takes aim at “streaming platforms, record labels, and other internet giants,” which the authors say “have exploited performers and creators without rewarding them fairly.”

“We must put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers,” the text proceeds. “Streaming is quickly replacing radio as our main means of music communication. However, the law has not kept up with the pace of technological change and, as a result, performers do not enjoy the same protections as they do in radio.

“Today’s musicians receive very little income from their performances – most featured artists receive tiny fractions of a US cent per stream and session musicians receive nothing at all,” the letter continues.

To remedy the problem, the message relays, “only two words need to change in the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.” This alteration “will modernise the law so that today’s artists receive a share of revenues, just like they enjoy in radio” – putting “more money in the pockets of UK taxpayers” and raising “revenues for public services like the NHS,” according to the document.

Lastly, the letter specifies that “an immediate government referral to the Competition and Markets Authority” is the “first step” towards addressing the “extraordinary power” that certain “multinational corporations” wield, to the detriment of songwriters.

“Ultimately, though, we need a regulator to ensure the lawful and fair treatment of music makers. … By addressing these problems, we will make the UK the best place in the world to be a musician or a songwriter, allow recording studios and the UK session scene to thrive once again, strengthen our world leading cultural sector, allow the market for recorded music to flourish for listeners and creators, and unearth a new generation of talent,” the letter reads towards its conclusion.

The previously noted petition, entitled “Put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers,” was launched by Keep Music Alive, an initiative from the Ivors Academy and the Musicians’ Union.

Addressed to the prime minister as well as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the petition (which touches upon the same points as the letter, albeit in fewer words) had garnered about 2,900 signatures at the time of this piece’s publishing.

Apple Music recently stated that it pays one cent per stream – two to three times the per-stream compensation offered by Spotify, factoring based upon Digital Music News’ much-cited breakdown of the Stockholm-based platform’s compensation rate.

7 Responses

  1. Kylo

    Greedy musicians demanding to be paid fairly for their creative works. Really?

  2. Jim

    Those people right there are the ones who should be sitting down with each other, with bags of money by their sides, and talking about the new service they want to start. It’s them that need to be happy, their music gets listened to for decades and will continue to be listened to for decades.

    They all get together, put up a website, charge money to access the content, put all their stuff up there – Beatles, Zeppelin, The Who, Coldplay. Take down all the content from youtube, except for singles, or whatever it is you are pushing at the moment.

    On one side, you have the Beatles and Zeppelin. On the other side, you have everyone else. But the side with everyone else can join the Beatles and Zeppelin side if they want. I’d think that if you had option 1 – the new great music site started by the Beatles and Zeppelin, and all the other bands that want to jump on board, and you can set the price of a stream yourself, and you can sell tickets yourself, and get money in as many different ways as you can think of, and option 2 – getting a fraction of a penny from Youtube, Spotify and the rest, you might go with option 1.

    If it cost a penny a minute to watch a live stream, who would pay to watch Jimmy Page walk around just doing day to day things? Paul McCartney?

    Others are talking about this general theory here. You use money to buy points which you add to your account, and when you stream a song, you spend points. You can do that for streams and downloads, video streams, downloads and live streams. tickets could be big. There might be many who want no part of any vaccine checking. Bands could just say “we’ll take care of tickets” It seems to me that streaming and ticketing could both be big issues that should be resolved.

    In theory, a band could just use ebay. Bands often set up their own computer systems which sometimes get overwhelmed by traffic, if a band was to use a much larger computer system, like ebay,

    Things seem broken in the live music industry. Some people think that vaccine checking is not unacceptable. Most people who actually do want to go to shows are not the people who want to do everything they can to avoid covid (which is stay home). Bands are going to find opportunities to do ticketing themselves.


    I hope that jackwad chokes to death on sperm.

    • Geronimo

      Jealous of Lebron James, I see. You’ll never amount to anything, especially compared to people like him.

  4. Kill All Democrats

    Killing a Democrats is not a crime but an act of public service

  5. Parasites

    Nadine Shaw again?

    Shaw has released 4 albums and 2 eps in the past 8 years but almost nobody streams her music. On a good day, she gets about 6000 streams on Spotify. That’s about $700 a month. She’s signed to a BMG/Warner subsidiary, so you know she’s contractually obligated to give away a huge percentage of her earnings.

    How did she get signed with such terrible numbers? She’s never had a hit.

    • Herr Funkheimer

      BMG/Warner does not get the artist portion of SoundExchange.