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Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

The UK’s parliamentary inquiry into music streaming economics took a strange turn yesterday, when the inquiry’s chair delivered a public warning.

“We have been told by many different sources that some of the people interested in speaking to us have become reluctant to do so because they fear action may be taken against them if they speak in public,” said Julian Knight MP.

“I would like to say that we would take a very dim view if we had any evidence of anyone interfering with witnesses to one of our inquiries. No-one should suffer any detriment for speaking to a Parliamentary Committee and anyone deliberately causing harm to one of our witnesses would be in danger of being in contempt of this House. This Committee will brook no such interference and will not hesitate to name and shame anyone proven to be involved in such activity.”

Which may be over-egging things a bit: artists’ reluctance to criticise big streaming platforms in case it harms their chances of getting playlisted certainly exists, but we’re not aware of any explicit (or even implicit) threats actually made by DSPs on this score, if they speak out.

Or rather: if artists are scared to criticise streaming services for fear of being de-playlisted, that IS a big concern pointing to the powers that the platforms wield. But Knight’s statement will be read by many people as referring to actual threats by DSPs to do this, to prevent artists from speaking out.

Until evidence of that emerges, the ‘brook no such interference’ rhetoric might be a little premature, but it’s certainly worth the committee exploring why artists are worried about criticising streaming.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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