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Streaming companies set up new lobbying group in Europe

By | Published on Wednesday 8 November 2017

Digital Music

You can never have too many trade bodies. You might think that you can, but I double checked, and you can’t. And so, here comes Digital Music Europe, an alliance of digital music companies in Europe. It should now launch a conference and an awards ceremony. Because if there’s something the music industry needs even more than new trade bodies, it’s yet more conferences and award ceremonies in the calendar.

“Digital Music Europe will showcase and promote the success of the European digital music industry”, says the new organisation, and “will serve as a resource for policy-makers, media and the digital music industry, and will advocate for policies that shape a favourable business environment for digital music”.

Resourcing policy-makers is the key aim of the all-new DME, that being code for lobbying lawmakers, especially in Brussels. You know, those pesky political types who keep banging on about the Digital Single Market and trying to rewrite copyright law and reform privacy rules. Take back control, I say.

Adds the DME: “Important policy debates on copyright, geo-blocking, online platforms, e-privacy, data transfers, digital contracts and taxation are underway, and DME will work with European policy-makers and others that are passionate about music to create a legislative and regulatory framework that supports the growth of digital music, and brings benefits to both artists and consumers”.

Launch members of the new organisation include various Europe-based streaming platforms and companies working within the digital music sector, including 7digital, Deezer, Qobuz, SoundCloud, Soundcharts and Spotify. Though the big bad American tech giants – ie Apple, Amazon and Google – are notably absent, despite them all being big players in digital music in the European market.

It could be that one of the areas DME chooses to lobby on is whether the European Union should regulate more the tech giants who are both platforms and services, especially as more music is consumed via Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home device. Apple in particular is doing a good job of depriving third-party streaming services the opportunity of tapping into the Siri voice activation technology that is increasingly a key part of its gadgets.

In terms of the new lobbying group’s potential relationship with the music industry – and the music community’s own multifarious lobbying organisations in Europe – that will presumably vary depending on the issue.

DME members likely see Google’s safe-harbour dwelling YouTube as a competitor that enjoys an unfair advantage, it exploiting the safe harbour to get better rates from the music industry. Will the DME therefore join the music companies on lobbying for safe harbour reform in Europe? That might depend on the extent to which the revamped SoundCloud reckons it still relies on its own safe harbour protection.

The DME will be headed up by Deezer and Spotify execs, the former’s CEO being President and the latter’s EU Regulatory Affairs director being Chair.

Says Deezer geezer Hans-Holger Albrecht: “For a decade, European digital music companies have led the transformation of the music industry globally. Bringing these companies together to create DME is a great opportunity to highlight European leadership in this sector, inspire other European entrepreneurs and create a unique voice with policy-makers”.

Says Spotify’s Olivia Regnier: “DME is eager to share the experience and vision of its members to contribute to policy debates shaping Europe’s Digital Single Market. We believe that policy-makers have a key role to play to support the growth of the entire music sector and enable more innovation in Europe”.

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