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Culture select committee chair says he will name and shame anyone trying to stop artists from speaking out about streaming

By | Published on Wednesday 2 December 2020

Houses Of Parliament

The Chair of Parliament’s culture select committee has said that he will happily name and shame anyone in the music industry found to be pressuring artists or songwriters – or anyone else for that matter – to not speak out as part of his ongoing inquiry into the economics of streaming.

It follows remarks by Nadine Shah at last week’s oral hearing in which she said that she knew of some artists nervous of criticising the current streaming business model because they still need the support of streaming platforms and/or major labels.

The select committee announced that it would investigate the ins and outs of music streaming in October, basically responding to the recent #brokenrecord and #fixstreaming campaigns that have criticised the way the streaming business is structured and how streaming monies are shared out between platforms, labels, publishers, artists, songwriters and session musicians.

Whenever the streaming business model is debated, it’s usually the platforms or the major record companies that tend to get the most criticism, particularly if those businesses are not actually represented in said debate. At the first artist-centric oral hearing of the select committee’s inquiry last week the majors were most heavily criticised, as MPs dissected record contracts and the way labels pay artists royalties.

Shah was one of four artists to give evidence at the select committee’s first hearing. She said that many artists were struggling to make a living from their music and felt that music-makers did not earn enough from the streaming of their songs and recordings, but didn’t want to complain in public because they didn’t want to “lose favour” with the big streaming platforms and major record companies.

In a statement yesterday, committee Chair Julian Knight MP said that he had now been told by multiple sources that some people were reluctant to speak out “because they fear action may be taken against them if they speak in public”.

Knight then stated: “I would like to say that we would take a very dim view if we had any evidence of anyone interfering with witnesses to one of our inquiries. No one should suffer any detriment for speaking to a parliamentary committee and anyone deliberately causing harm to one of our witnesses would be in danger of being in contempt of this house”.

He then added: “This committee will brook no such interference and will not hesitate to name and shame anyone proven to be involved in such activity. Anyone who wants to come forward to speak on this issue or any other issues should get in touch with the committee and will be treated in confidence”.

Although oral hearings have begun in this inquiry, written submissions are still being accepted until 11 Dec. And while usually any submissions made to a select committee are subsequently made public, confidential submissions can be made where there is “good reason”.