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Experts panel: equitable remuneration and music streaming

Music Ally’s Global Experts Panel is an international group of industry leaders. Each month we put a single, vital question to them about today’s music industry – and ask them what should happen next.

Equitable remuneration (ER) is a hot-button topic with huge potential implications for the music industry in the UK. ER emerged as a focal point of the ongoing high-profile UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Streaming Economics (which Music Ally has covered at length), after being introduced strategically early in the inquiry by a well-organised group of artists and their representatives.

Tom Gray, founder of the Broken Record campaign that helped initiate the inquiry, talked about ER as an “equal pay for equal work” change to the way that rightsholders are paid.

(As a reminder: in the UK, equitable remuneration is the system used to pay royalties from broadcast usage of music, with collecting society PPL splitting them 50/50 between labels and artists.)

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Top British musicians join campaign for streaming ER

The UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is working on its report (and recommendations) from its inquiry into the economics of music streaming. One of the big talking points during the inquiry’s evidence sessions was equitable remuneration (ER): specifically extending it from radio and TV to some streams.

The Broken Record campaign has made ER one of its key requests of the committee; labels have argued firmly against it; and (in our view, at least) the committee seems to be leaning more towards the former camp. But the committee isn’t the British government, so if ER is to be extended, ministers will need to be convinced too.

That campaign is already starting. A letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson – and shown to Music Ally this morning – sees a who’s who of British musicians backing such an extension. Sir Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Chris Martin, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Kate Bush, Roger Daltrey, Damon Albarn, Noel Gallagher, Laura Marling, Sir Tim Rice… and many more.

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Equitable remuneration takes centre stage at UK streaming economics inquiry

This morning saw the first two oral evidence sessions in the British Parliament’s inquiry into the economics of music streaming, focusing on musicians and their advocates. Two words loomed large: equitable remuneration.

It’s already clear that ER is the biggest change that this side of the debate – artists and their representatives – is going to be pushing for the Digital, Culture and Sport Committee to recommend in its ultimate report.

ER already exists in the UK: it’s the system used to pay royalties from broadcast usage of music, with collecting society PPL splitting them 50/50 between labels and artists.

What today’s speakers want is for legislation to extend that system to some (not all) streams on services like Spotify and Apple Music. For example, their more radio-like ‘passive’ listening modes and playlists.