UK Government Green-Lights Streaming Compensation ‘Working Group’: ‘A Welcome Step Towards Addressing the Frustrations of Musicians’

music streaming
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music streaming
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The Palace of Westminster. Photo Credit: Ugur Akdemir

Following a lengthy investigation into the economics of music streaming, the UK government has officially “agreed to establish an industry working group” designed “to explore issues around fair pay for creators in the music streaming industry.”

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee (which dropped “Digital” from its name last month) unveiled the working group via a brief release today. For background – and in the interest of relative brevity – the Culture, Media and Sport Committee (CMS Committee) launched an investigation into music streaming way back in October of 2020.

More than a few testimonies, hearings, and headlines later, the CMS Committee in July of 2021 published a voluminous “final report” on the matter, calling for (among other things) a “complete reset” of the streaming sphere.

Notwithstanding this firmly worded request and the findings that prompted it, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after spearheading a related “market study into music streaming” opted in July of 2022 not to pursue a broader investigation. November of 2022 then saw the CMA publish its own final report on the subject, spanning an astonishing 165 pages.

“Given the evidence on positive outcomes for consumers, the lack of sustained excess profits of record companies, and the declining share of music streaming revenues paid out to rightsholders, our current view is that the limited competition in the supply of music to music streaming services is not a substantial cause for concern,” the government agency made clear.

Undeterred by the conclusion, the CMS Committee kicked off 2023 by claiming in another report that “a wide-ranging national strategy for music,” including the initially mentioned working group, was needed to ensure “creators and performers receive a fairer cut of the money made from streaming.”

Now, the UK government has according to the CMS Committee agreed to form said group, which will purportedly “be composed of representatives and experts from across the music sector.” The multi-member entity is poised “to explore and develop industry-led actions that support fair remuneration for existing and future music creators as part of a successful and globally competitive music industry,” the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology penned in a letter to CMS Committee Chair Caroline Dinenage.

While concrete details about the group and its implications are few and far between – the noted letter’s authors highlighted the “many positives” of streaming and indicated that they would initiate relevant stakeholder conversations “over the coming weeks” – Dinenage applauded the overarching development as “a welcome step.”

“The creation of a working group we have been calling for is a welcome step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry,” said the Gosport MP.

“The Government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change so the talented creators and performers we have in this country are properly rewarded for their creativity.

“The Committee will be keeping a close eye on progress and also looking more widely at artist and creator remuneration to ensure everyone who works in our creative industries can share in its successes,” finished Dinenage.