MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by BigRedX »

uselessoldman wrote:Promotion does not require a record label, could be your manager your advertising agency your sister/brother father friend. Obviously I am talking about "normal times" not when the world is in the grip of some pandemic which is killing most industries not just music.

There will always be room for a promotional agent, information is valuable as much as time can be expensive, it has a cost. With the number of people taking marketing and media degrees nowadays the world should be full of talented/educated people looking for work/new acts opportunities.

But from personal experience effective promotion requires a substantial amount of money lots of time and some very specialised knowledge in order to target it appropriately for the artist in question. This is something that good record labels in abundance.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Yep, it doesn't require a label, but it is what they're very good at and (should be) set up to do.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by CS70 »

uselessoldman wrote:Promotion does not require a record label

No, but it requires dedicated, continuous work over a rather longish period of time, and to be effective, which require substantial funding unless one doesn't live of air. For that work to have a chance to pay off, you need a good deal of expertise in what works and what not and how to reach and work the proper channels; and usually a significant network of connections makes things much easier. They don't invite you at an interview with Jimmy Kimmel right when your new album is coming out just because you ask.

Of all these factors, the connection aspect is perhaps the most important. Your stuff's gotta be good, but there's lots of good stuff in the world that never gets heard because it's not presented by the right people to the right people.

All that is usually a (good) "label". I don't see many of these around however..

Another common way for an artist to be launched is via an existing successful performing artist that takes him/her as a "protégé", lending him/her his or her network... again, the protege's gotta be good and be making good (and sellable) stuff, but if the right guy or gal says "it's worth checking out", the marketing budget suddenly gets much smaller.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by RichardT »

Fascinating article from the Guardian on this.....

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/ ... ary-report
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Some very interesting stuff in there and I, for one, am glad to see that the argument has largely moved on from 'streaming = bad', which has so heavily stifled the debate.
Two things do spring to mind though:
1) as long as this debate is happening in the UK not the US (or even Sweden) it's kind of irrelevant.
2) I know this is a series of opinions, but I wish that newspapers would fact-check this stuff and annotate it accordingly.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Martin Walker »

blinddrew wrote:Some very interesting stuff in there and I, for one, am glad to see that the argument has largely moved on from 'streaming = bad', which has so heavily stifled the debate.

Agreed - I thought exactly the same thing, and there were various sensible suggestions there that merit further thought.

Mostly at the expense of record companies though, who are no longer manufacturing, but more restricted to marketing, and should therefore take a smaller proportion of future record/streaming deals.

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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by N i g e l »

Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, etc.) Bill

this was up for debate yesterday and will carry on on 10th Dec

the long version (probably available as audio on The BBC somewhere)..

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2 ... nsEtc)Bill
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Really don't know where to start with that. :headbang:
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by N i g e l »

If you skim a couple of sections thats probably enough to get the gist of the proceedings, dad jokes, pros and cons, and the complexities.

My immedite take away was that I didnt realise that P.W. is ex- Runrig & Big Country.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

I'm looking again actually, I fear I may have been pre-emptive in my initial analysis.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

General thoughts:
Why don't they have a copy of the bill* on the page relating to the discussion? :thumbdown:
There's a copy here by the way: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/b ... 210019.pdf

Mike Wood trying to compare singles sales to streams as if they're remotely the same. :roll:
Pete Wishart being out by a factor of 100 on the payment rates for iTunes and Apple music. :!:
Whole thing is still predicated on a misunderstanding of the fundamental purpose of copyright. The purpose is to encourage the creation of new material, the mechanism is a government-granted, time-limited monopoly.
Major labels still unwilling to examine alternatives (unsurprising).
Dean Russell on a meaningless nostalgia trip.
Angela Richardson admitting breaking copyright law (as we all did) by recording songs off the radio.
Dean Russell talking about not wanting to do a disservice to up and coming musicians but making no mention of one of the easiest ways they could help musicians in this country: accept the EU's proposal to allow touring bands/orchestras. :headbang:
Graham Stuart points out that just because the industry says it'll be terrible doesn't mean that it actually will. :thumbup:
Dean Russell finally getting to the point about the breadth and depth of people involved in the music industry.
Julie Elliott still pushing the idea that musicians 'deserve' to be able to make a living. Then sounding shocked about how opaque the music labels are with their money routing.
Julie Elliott the first to actually get to one of the actual changes in the bill, the 20-year notice period.
Andy Carter asks if that would block the use of that track and what happens with any royalties to other musicians? I would say he hasn't read the bill but see the asterisk at the bottom.
Esther McVey (of all people) actually on point about the reduction in piracy brought about by widespread streaming.
Also gets into some serious stuff about the consolidation of the business into three major labels, three publishers and the lack of independence and competition.
Also good point about the differing speed of payments. This is looking scarily like a minister who might actually understand their brief. :o
Good points on the difference between licence and sale and the effect of the lack of transparency in the process.
McVey then continues that the conservatives don't believe in monopolies and oversized organisations - oh the irony! Then disappears down a weird tangent about only investing in already successful acts.
Graham Stuart interrupts to correct that part.
Seema Malhotra goes on about the global impact of british music but again no mention of the difficulties in touring Europe now. Seems to be the first to recognise that musicians have been ripped off for decades now and this isn't just related to streaming or the pandemic.
Lots of talk about how music is a global business but no recognition of how that might impact payment rates.
Andy Carter talking about how 'equitable remuneration' as it is defined isn't going to be the panacea that the bill drafters think it will.
I'm stopping now because no-one is reading this, but I'm really not sure this is going to add anything to the table. Spotify is based in Sweden, Amazon, Apple, Tidal, Youtube etc are all based in the US. That's where the discussion needs to happen.

* Does anyone else find this practically unreadable? I'm pretty au-fait with corporate gobbledygook but this is nuts. A few years ago the government did a really good job on making sure that all .gov websites were well written in plain English; we should do the same with the law and government bills. The supporting notes are much better: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/b ... 0019en.pdf The bills should be written like this.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by James Perrett »

Drew, your points about touring are valid but nothing to do with the subject matter of this bill.

There is a big gap in this thread where we missed the publication of the culture select committee's report into this subject back in October. The bill is an attempt to implement some of the recommendations but, like most private member's bills, probably won't become law. I understand that there may be moves afoot to introduce a government sponsored bill which will stand more chance of success but may well water down the recommendations.

There's a story here...

https://completemusicupdate.com/article ... arliament/

Which seems to sum things up fairly well.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by RichardT »

I’ve read a few bills and they tend to be like that. I think it’s because they are like the computer code of the law, intended to be clear and explicit to the legal experts who use them at the cost of being clear to non-experts. The accompanying notes are like the comments in the code, explaining what is going on in plain language.

I don’t think ‘plain English’ bills would work as they would be ambiguous.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

James Perrett wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 10:13 pm Drew, your points about touring are valid but nothing to do with the subject matter of this bill.

True, but they would have been relevant to the debate as touring and live revenue were mentioned on several occasions.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

RichardT wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 10:40 pm I’ve read a few bills and they tend to be like that. I think it’s because they are like the computer code of the law, intended to be clear and explicit to the legal experts who use them at the cost of being clear to non-experts. The accompanying notes are like the comments in the code, explaining what is going on in plain language.

I don’t think ‘plain English’ bills would work as they would be ambiguous.

The thing is that we are all subject to these bills. We should be able to understand the laws we are subject to.
I also disagree on the plain language point. Yes, there are specific legal terms that might be difficult to translate unambiguously, but I don't think the bulk of the texts couldn't be re-written in a much more understandable way.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

James Perrett wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 10:13 pm There is a big gap in this thread where we missed the publication of the culture select committee's report into this subject back in October. The bill is an attempt to implement some of the recommendations but, like most private member's bills, probably won't become law. I understand that there may be moves afoot to introduce a government sponsored bill which will stand more chance of success but may well water down the recommendations.

There's a story here...

https://completemusicupdate.com/article ... arliament/

Which seems to sum things up fairly well.

Sounds like the first debate was much like the second. Again there's a certain humour in Whittingdale saying changing signed contracts isn't the conservative way of working - he may want to let Lord Frost know... ;)
Thanks for the link. :thumbup:
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by merlyn »

I saw the select committee on BBC Parliament at the time. Tom Gray was a witness and had a simple and sane solution -- a User-Centric Payment System.

That means if a person paid their £5 subscription and only listened to e.g. my music I would get the fiver. If they listened to half my music, and half Taylor Swift, Taylor would get £2.50, and I would get £2.50.

Simple and fair, no?

The record labels don't like that, and they negotiate deals, meaning the record companies decide how user's subscriptions are divided up.

Tom Gray is active with the #BrokenRecord campaign, and his written evidence to Parliament is here :

https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 10156/pdf/
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by RichardT »

I like that idea, Merlyn. Actually there are two ideas there…

The first is that all artists should be treated the same, irrespective of label (if they have one) and distributor. That’s a great idea.

The second is giving different amounts to the artist per play depending on how much music a subscriber listens to in total, and how much they listen to a given artist in particular. I can see the good sides of that, but it’s also a little untransparent and unpredictable.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

SoundCloud are experimenting with this approach at the moment. I think they call it proportional distribution or similar. Their assumption, based on their data, is that it will result in more payments to smaller artists. It will interesting to see how that works in practice.
It certainly feels like a better option than the equitable remuneration approach being proposed.

Personally I think we'd be better off by ripping up the whole copyright framework and starting again for the digital era, going right back to the basic principles of what it's for in the first place.
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Re: MPs to investigate why artists aren't paid fairly for streaming music

Post by merlyn »

RichardT wrote: Sun Dec 05, 2021 1:22 pm The second is giving different amounts to the artist per play depending on how much music a subscriber listens to in total, and how much they listen to a given artist in particular. I can see the good sides of that, but it’s also a little untransparent and unpredictable.

It's not completely transparent at the moment. The £0.0004 per stream is transparent in that it is out in the open and everyone knows that's what one stream gets. But the money from the £0.0004 is the smaller part. A Spotify subscription is £10. Let's say Spotify take half. To spend £5 at £0.0004 per pop would take 12,500 streams, or over 400 streams per day.

1,000 streams per month, or over 30 per day would be a lot for one Spotify user and that comes to 40p. So the bulk of the money is distributed in other ways that aren't made public -- e.g. deals between Universal Music and Spotify.
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Re: MPs to investigate why artists aren't paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:24 pm
RichardT wrote: Sun Dec 05, 2021 1:22 pm The second is giving different amounts to the artist per play depending on how much music a subscriber listens to in total, and how much they listen to a given artist in particular. I can see the good sides of that, but it’s also a little untransparent and unpredictable.

It's not completely transparent at the moment. The £0.0004 per stream is transparent in that it is out in the open and everyone knows that's what one stream gets. But the money from the £0.0004 is the smaller part. A Spotify subscription is £10. Let's say Spotify take half. To spend £5 at £0.0004 per pop would take 12,500 streams, or over 400 streams per day.

1,000 streams per month, or over 30 per day would be a lot for one Spotify user and that comes to 40p. So the bulk of the money is distributed in other ways that aren't made public -- e.g. deals between Universal Music and Spotify.

Spotify don't actually pay per stream though.
If I recall correctly, Spotify take 35% of income and distribute the rest to rights holders based on the proportion of plays. That means if you have two months with the same income, but more plays in the second month, it's a lower payment per play.
Also, your example above is about a factor of 10 out. Payments generally vary from between $0.003 and $0.008 from Spotify.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by BigRedX »

Where are we getting this £0.0004 per stream figure from?

None of my Spotify streams have ever paid that little. Mine average out at about 10x that figure.
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Re: MPs to investigate why artists aren't paid fairly for streaming music

Post by merlyn »

** Attack Of The Free-Marketeer Daleks **

[In Dalek voice]

Exprofitate! Exprofitate! Supply and demand! Exprofitate!

blinddrew wrote: Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:57 pm Also, your example above is about a factor of 10 out. Payments generally vary from between $0.003 and $0.008 from Spotify.

I got the figures here : https://committees.parliament.uk/writte ... 10156/pdf/

Are you forgetting that the record company take some of the streaming payout?

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Re: MPs to investigate why artists aren't paid fairly for streaming music

Post by James Perrett »

merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 06, 2021 1:18 pm Are you forgetting that the record company take some of the streaming payout?

But the record company share depends on the deal that the individual artist has negotiated with their record label. We hear quite a bit about the bad deals but there are plenty of people with better deals too. For the sake of understanding the issues it is more helpful to talk about the payment before the middlemen start creaming off their share. Your figures also talk about the songwriter's share which a totally different pot of money to the figures that Drew is talking about. The real figure here is around 0.0007 for Spotify and slightly higher for iTunes.

I get very fed up with people pointing the finger at Spotify when the real villains are the major labels. They have no defence when they can pay their top management more than all their music artists combined.

The only streaming service that isn't really playing fair is Youtube which has much lower payment rates than the others.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Albatross »

Does it make any sense to say that, say, Radio 2 pay less per pair of ears because they have 14m listeners?
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

To Merlyn, what James said. ^^^ :)
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Re: MPs to investigate why artists aren't paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

But also...
James Perrett wrote: Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:25 pm The real figure here is around 0.0007 for Spotify and slightly higher for iTunes.

My figures from my latest statement (platform / plays / payment / rate):
Spotify / 530 / £2.02 / 0.38ppp (pence per play)
Apple Music / 23 / £0.19 / 0.83ppp
Youtube Music / 19 / £0.10 / 0.53ppp
Boomplay Music / 84 / £0.02 / 0.024ppp

A few things to note:
1) firstly the low number of plays mean that rounding errors might be significant.
2) I think Youtube Music and Youtube have different payment rates but I'm not sure?
3) Boomplay is a site based in, and focused on, Africa - hence the much lower rates.
4) Being the sole creator here, and paying my distributor upfront, means there's no middleman costs here. This is what the services are paying out to rightsholders.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by James Perrett »

Those look like fairly healthy numbers Drew but my 0.0007 figure in the quote above (and the payment in Merlyn's post) is for the songwriter's publishing - not the standard payment.
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Re: MPs to investigate whether artists are paid fairly for streaming music

Post by Drew Stephenson »

Ah, sorry, yes I see now. My bad. :oops:
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