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FAC and MMF publish white paper on Parliament’s big streaming report

By | Published on Wednesday 8 September 2021

FAC & MMF White Paper: Economics Of Music Streaming

The Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum have today published a new white paper on the UK Parliament’s recent lengthy report on the economics of music streaming.

It sets out what the two groups consider to be the priority issues for the music industry and government to now address, or – in the words of the white paper – “the greatest inequities and structural issues that stop artists and songwriters from truly benefiting in a fair way from the positive impact that the rise of streaming has had on the wider music business”.

The parliamentary report was based on the high profile inquiry into the economics of streaming undertaken by the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee. MPs on the committee received hundreds of submissions from across the music community about the various issues with the way the streaming music business currently works, and heard from stakeholders from all sides of the industry in a series of oral hearings.

Having crunched all that information, the committee made a series of recommendations for how the industry might change its practices, how copyright law might be reformed, and what role government should play in addressing the issues. Ministers in the relevant government departments will now respond to that report and those recommendations later this month.

Ahead of that, the FAC and MMF white paper is being published with the aim, the two groups say, of providing “artists and managers with a condensed yet comprehensive overview of the key discussion points of the committee’s work, and to outline the FAC and MMF’s shared positions on three key areas: record contracts and artist royalties; royalty chains and the black box; and platform licensing, transparency and streaming service advances”.

The FAC/MMF paper also makes various demands of the music industry and government, including calling on record labels to pay a minimum digital royalty on all recordings, including those covered by legacy deals, and for government to put a contract adjustment mechanism into copyright law so that artists on old deals have a formal way to pursue better terms.

It also calls for action on the royalty chains that impact on songwriter royalties, and for artists and songwriters to get a new transparency right in law, so they can better understand how their recordings and songs are being monetised in the digital domain.

The white paper is informed by the MMF’s six year long ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ project, in which the trade body has worked with CMU Insight to help artists and managers better understand all the complexities of the streaming business. It was also previewed at a webinar presented by FAC, MMF and CMU last week.

Commenting on the white paper, FAC CEO David Martin says: “Following publication of the committee’s landmark report over the summer, we are anticipating that the government will respond to its recommendations on music streaming before the end of this month. That response will be absolutely critical to the livelihoods of our members, and it is why we are publishing this white paper today”.

MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick adds: “We were absolutely delighted with the level of engagement at last week’s online seminar, and that the degree of interest about the inquiry from both artists and managers remains undimmed. We hope this short and punchy white paper will serve as a helpful reminder of the key issues at play, and reiterate the urgency for both industry and policy-makers to step up and deliver artist-friendly reforms”.

You can download the white paper from the FAC website here. Martin has also written a blog post about the inquiry and the FAC and MMF’s response.