The debate about streaming royalties and ‘user-centric’ payments – primer here if needed – has largely been confined to the music industry so far. Could politicians get involved?
Jo Stevens of the UK’s Labour Party, who’s the shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, got involved during a radio discussion last night. Asked by presenter Colin Murray whether she supported a switch to a user-centric system for royalties, Stevens agreed. “Yeah, we support it. The Labour Party position is that we support this. Why should it be any different for musicians than it is for any other profession or trade?” she said. “If a plumber comes to fix something in your bathroom, you will pay the plumber for the work that they’ve done. If a musician creates something, and it’s being used and enjoyed and listened to by people, then through that platform musicians should be paid for their work, because they own it, they create it.”
Stevens also compared streaming royalties to the hospitality industry. “It’s not right. It’s like: you order a takeaway online and what you pay for the takeaway then goes to a different restaurant. You wouldn’t stand for that if you were ordering a takeaway, why should you stand for that if you’re streaming a piece of music?”
Note: the Labour Party is not in power: it’s in opposition to a government with an 80-seat majority, so Stevens’ power to mandate change on this score is extremely limited. Even so, it’s an interesting intervention that will buoy the supporters of user-centric within the British music industry.