British Parliament to Investigate Streaming Royalties From Spotify, Apple, More

The British Parliament is launching an inquiry into streaming services and whether artists are paid fairly by Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play and others, according to an announcement Friday.

Julian Knight, committee chair of the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Spot said the growth of the streaming market “cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists,” according to the BBC. The announcement states that in the U.K., music streaming “brings in more than £1 billion in revenue with 114 billion music streams in the last year, however artists can be paid as little as 13% of the income generated.”

The committee has put out an open call for evidence on Parliament’s website, with a deadline of Nov. 16. The inquiry will begin that month, and is seeking 
“the perspectives of industry experts, artists and record labels as well as streaming platforms themselves.”

The questions in the terms of reference include:
• What are the dominant business models of platforms that offer music streaming as a service?
• Have new features associated with streaming platforms, such as algorithmic curation of music or company playlists, influenced consumer habits, tastes, etc?
• What has been the economic impact and long-term implications of streaming on the music industry, including for artists, record labels, record shops, etc?
• How can the Government protect the industry from knock-on effects, such as increased piracy of music? Does the UK need an equivalent of the Copyright Directive?
• Do alternative business models exist? How can policy favour more equitable business models?

While artists often speak of low and seemingly unfair royalty payments from streaming services, it should be noted that the payments are received by the rights holder, which is often the record label, and the distributed to the artist after the label and other entities take their shares.

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