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Council Of Music Makers sets out its five key priorities ahead of ministerial review of economics of streaming work

By | Published on Wednesday 22 March 2023

Streaming services

The Council Of Music Makers has set out its five key priorities in the ongoing debate around the economics of streaming, urging record labels, music publishers and streaming services to work with artists, songwriters and their managers via the forums already put in place by the UK government to address each of the five things they are calling for.

The government’s Intellectual Property Office instigated three strands of work in late 2021 following the Economics Of Music Streaming inquiry undertaken by the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee in Parliament. Those three strands respectively put the focus on remuneration, transparency and data.

That work has involved representatives from across the music industry, including the five organisations that make up the Council Of Music Makers, those being the Musicians’ Union, the Featured Artists Coalition, the Ivors Academy, the Music Producers Guild and the Music Managers Forum.

When the select committee held another session late last year to review all the IPO-instigated work, MPs were told that there had been some progress on transparency and data. But that when it comes to artist and songwriter remuneration, some research had been commissioned but no real discussion between industry stakeholders had yet taken place.

The CMM has set out its priorities this morning ahead of a ministerial meeting tomorrow in which relevant members of government will also review the IPO-led work. The message from the CMM organisations seems to be that while some progress has been made on some of their priorities, there is plenty more still to be done.

In its statement, the CMM also notes recent comments by Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge in which he has called for the way music streaming works – and the way streaming monies are shared out across the industry – to be evolved into a more “artist-centric” model.

He’s been very vague regarding what that means, but the CMM reckons that the starting point to achieving a more “artist-centric” streaming business is achieving its five priorities. Each of those five points have been raised plenty of times before, of course, including within the IPO-led work, and so far the labels – especially the majors – have pushed back on a bunch of them.

The statement also references Spotify’s recent Stream On event – and comments made there by boss man Daniel Ek and other execs about the streaming firm’s mission to truly empower creators – as well as recent remarks by the Interim CEO at record label trade group BPI, Sophie Jones, about the need for the music community “to unite and create the impetus for further growth”.

“The IPO-convened working groups provide the perfect forum to achieve this vision of an artist-and-creator-centric streaming business”, the CMM’s statement reads, “allowing a united music industry to work together to put in place the five key foundational changes outlined by the CMM today”.

“Thanks to nearly two years of hard work by the IPO and representatives from across the industry some progress has already been made, especially around data and transparency”, it goes on. “The CMM hopes that that work will soon result in new industry codes which will start this process of transformation. Meanwhile, some independent music businesses are already going further”.

“However”, it adds, “there remains much, much more to be done to ensure meaningful change across the entire industry: the journey has only just begun. The CMM is ready and willing to build on the work to date to deliver all five of the foundational changes, creating a truly artist-and-creator-centric streaming business and transforming the livelihoods of all music makers”.

As for what the five key priorities are, the CMM states that to move to an “artist-and-creator-centric” music streaming sector the following should be achieved:

1. All featured artists should receive a modern, minimum digital royalty rate, with unrecouped balances written off after a term, on a rolling basis, without any additional conditions.

2. All session musicians should see the benefit of the streaming boom, on both new recordings and catalogue.

3. All music-makers should have an opportunity to revise outdated old contract terms, making old deals fit for purpose in the modern music business. Remuneration should always be fair and appropriate.

4. All songwriters and artists must be given transparency on how their music is monetised by each digital platform. That includes proactively communicating how monies are allocated to each music-maker’s songs and recordings, and then shared with and paid through to them.

5. The whole industry should ensure that all required music rights data is in the system before release. Every music-maker should always be credited for their contribution and digital royalties must reach songwriters as quickly and accurately as they do for artists.

The CMM organisations then state: “As the Council Of Music Makers we stand united in our desire to build a system where streaming offers more equitable rewards to all those who compose, perform and produce music. While it is heartening to see major music companies share our conclusion that change is necessary, it is disappointing that we have seen few meaningful commitments on the five fundamental areas already put on the table at the IPO”.

“Ahead of our meeting with ministers on 23 Jun”, they go on, “we urge our label and publishing partners to join us in taking the necessary actions so we can all unite and create the impetus for future growth”.

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