British music industry responds to CMA’s market investigation decision


We covered UK competition regulator the CMA’s decision yesterday not to refer a full market investigation of music streaming and the music industry. And we also pulled out some of the most interesting bits of its report: stats on the UK market, and information on how streams break down between different playlists on the key services.

How is the industry reacting though? A variety of statements were issued yesterday, so we’re publishing them in full below (and will update them with any stragglers over the coming days).

BPI CEO Geoff Taylor

“We welcome the CMA’s preliminary findings, which have concluded that the streaming market is competitive, providing artists with more ways to release their music, and fans with more choice and value than ever before. We and our many and varied record label members are focused on investing in British artists, building their global fanbases, and sustaining the continued success of British music. We will continue to engage with the CMA and government to help ensure that the streaming market works to the benefit of artists, songwriters, record companies and fans.”

MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick and FAC CEO David Martin

“By their own admission, this initial report from the Competition & Markets Authority is primarily focussed on consumers. In that context, we agree that streaming has been hugely positive. The recorded market is booming, and music fans have never had such choice and access to music.

But when it comes to the impact on artists, songwriters and the creator community, the findings do not represent reality, particularly in the context of record label profits, which are seeing double digit year on year growth. Many of the more complex and contentious issues raised by our members – for instance, around contractual reforms, disparity in negotiating power or the ‘blank cheque’ advances paid to major labels as part of licensing negotiations – are simply not referenced at all.

On the face of it, the CMA report is disappointing for music makers. However, all of these issues remain the subject of intense discussion at the Intellectual Property Office, with a stated commitment to legislate if the industry cannot agree to market reform. It is ultimately this process that will deliver the most tangible results for artists, songwriters and music creators, and the FAC and MMF will be placing full focus on achieving a fairer deal for our members either via these IPO workstreams or through legislative intervention.”

Musicians’ Union general secretary Naomi Pohl

“It is disappointing that the competition issues we see in the music streaming market, which impact on our members’ earning capacity, will not be explored fully in a CMA investigation. The CMA’s release today highlights what it sees as positive impacts of music streaming, but we feel they have failed to recognise the very serious problems posed to creators.

In the long term, this could diminish the diversity of British music available to consumers as musicians are forced to seek other ways to make a living. We had particularly hoped that the CMA would deliver for songwriters who are currently receiving a small share of streaming revenue. Our fight to ‘Fix Streaming’ will continue, and we are still pushing for legislative reform to guarantee fair payments for our members.”

Ivors Academy chair (and Broken Record founder) Tom Gray

“Without doubt, the CMA’s decision not to launch a full market investigation is disappointing for songwriters and composers and fails to address the urgent need to fully and properly value the song within streaming. While there have been positive steps to address historic contracts and explore user-centric models, much more needs to be done to put music creators at the heart of music, so they are properly rewarded for their work. It’s a long road to fair and equal treatment and we are committed to working with music creators, the Intellectual Property Office and partners to achieve this.”

Entertainment Retailers Association statement

“The report vindicates ERA’s view that the investment and innovation of music streaming platforms has been overwhelmingly positive for consumers as well as for the music industry.

Thanks to streaming services, consumers have greater access to a greater variety of music than ever before and an array of price and service propositions.

Meanwhile for the recorded music industry, streaming services have rescued a sector that had been shrinking rapidly due to piracy and have delivered over £5 billion of new revenue in the UK alone.

Recent forecasts from Goldman Sachs and the consultancy Midia suggest that UK streaming revenues will grow by a further 70%-100% by 2030 with the vast majority of that digital dividend flowing to the music industry.

ERA and its members will continue to assist the CMA in its enquiries ahead of the publication of its final report in January 2023. Meanwhile ERA welcomes the progress which has already been made in the parallel process initiated by the DCMS and the Intellectual Property Office and pledges its commitment to do what it can to improve transparency, data standards and data quality to speed the flow of money to artists and songwriters.

ERA CEO Kim Bayley said, ‘The transformation and return to health of the music industry through streaming is an incredible success story, driven by the innovation and investment of streaming platforms. We need to continue to build on that success and ensure that the market works for everyone involved.'”

AIM CEO Paul Pacifico

“We welcome the CMA’s update report which reinforces what we know – that building success in music is hard – and underlines the need for organisations across music to work together to secure positive outcomes for the sector. Ultimately, AIM’s community of creative entrepreneurs want to be assured they are fighting a fair fight, and we will continue to work across industry and government to help ensure UK music remains world-leading.”

Hipgnosis Song Management CEO Merck Mercuriadis

“We would like to thank the CMA for acknowledging in its report today the lack of transparency in the music streaming market, and for highlighting the continued dominance of the market by the major labels and recorded music, along with the severely adverse impact this is having on songwriters’ ability to earn a living. However, with 70% of all those responding to the CMA consultation calling for reform, it is regrettable that the CMA is not minded to investigate and address the clear failures its study identified.

The DCMS select committee in its July 2021 report on the economics of music streaming – “Music streaming must modernize. Is anybody listening?” – called for the CMA to address the economic impact of the music majors’ dominance.

Today the CMA has not acted to address the impact on the creative songwriting community, and this is a missed opportunity to follow up on those concerns raised by MPs on the DCMS select committee. It is a disappointment for songwriters who earn pitiful returns from streaming, not because there is not enough to go round, but simply because it is not being shared fairly and equitably.

Hipgnosis will continue to call for fundamental reform of a broken system which does not recognise the paramount role of the songwriter in the music ecosystem. We have always believed that the ultimate solution lies within the music industry itself and we will continue to advocate on behalf of songwriters with the major recorded music companies to push for a fair and equitable split. There would be no recorded music industry without songwriters.

Legislative and government authorities have the power to redress the economic imbalance where major recorded music companies that own and control the major publishing companies are purposefully undervaluing the songwriter’s contribution. The IPO has a key role to play in redressing the imbalance and we will continue to support its work and efforts.

Hipgnosis will continue to campaign for change at the highest levels, using our success to advocate and fight on behalf of the songwriting community and to take the songwriter from the bottom of the economic equation to the top.”

Written by: Stuart Dredge