UK Competition Watchdog Announces ‘Probe Into Music Streaming’ Following Months-Long DCMS Investigation

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London, England. Photo Credit: Benjamin Davies

Back in July, following a months-long investigation, a British parliamentary committee called for a “complete reset” of music streaming’s economics. Now, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has unveiled plans for “a market study into music streaming.”

The Competition and Markets Authority – which is investigating Sony Music’s $430 million AWAL purchase – announced its music streaming “probe” today, acknowledging at the outset of the corresponding release that officials are working “to consider and develop the final scope of the market study, before formally launching it as soon as possible.”

Bearing in mind this ongoing consideration and development of the music streaming market study, the investigation’s extent and details haven’t yet been publicly revealed. However, CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli in a statement noted that the probe’s findings could set the stage for “further action.”

“The UK has a love affair with music and is home to many of the world’s most popular artists. We want to do everything we can to ensure that this sector is competitive, thriving and works in the interests of music lovers,” said Coscelli, who became chief executive of the eight-year-old government agency in July of 2016.

“Over the past decade, the music industry has evolved almost beyond recognition, with streaming now accounting for more than 80% of all music listened to in this country. A market study will help us to understand these radical changes and build a view as to whether competition in this sector is working well or whether further action needs to be taken,” he finished.

Additionally, Coscelli informed lawmakers including DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight of the investigation in an open letter, while the Solihull MP Knight in a statement applauded the “inquiry into music streaming and the dominance of the major music groups.”

The Association of Independent Music (AIM) reached out to DMN with a statement from CEO Paul Pacifico, who said of the CMA’s music streaming market study: “AIM stands for an inclusive and open market that offers genuine opportunity for all.

“Concerns around hyperconcentration of power by the majors who control 75% of the market and the dynamic between music and technology companies are some of the topics that could well benefit from this CMA market study, which could help build understanding and confidence for all stakeholders in music, from creators to consumers,” finished Pacifico.

The DCMS Committee report itself – which spans a staggering 118 pages – offers commentary and recommendations concerning everything from “unfair contracts” to “pitiful” streaming earnings and the contemporary music landscape’s “barriers for new performers” to the major labels’ far-reaching influence.

On the latter front, a substantial portion of the extensive document examines the Big Three labels’ impact, with the authors indicating that “issues ostensibly created by streaming simply reflect more fundamental, structural problems within the recorded music industry.”

2 Responses

  1. Ted

    Some guy shouting over a drum loop in his bedroom is entirely different from an artist recording in a major studio using a Professional orchestra, a horn section plus a choir. And yet pricing remains the same for both recordings!

    • Wilhelm

      exactly. It’s important to clarify what an artist actually is