Insights Government publishes response to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s report on the “Economics of Music Streaming”


The Government notes that the rise of streaming has brought many benefits to consumers and to the music industry: music lovers have access to a far wider range of music than ever before; revenues from streaming are growing; and there are more music creators who can release music. However, it notes that there are also many more creators competing for a share of overall music revenues and there are many different views as to how streaming revenues should be split to ensure fairness. There are also concerns that the UK’s regulatory frameworks, including for copyright, have not kept pace with the changes brought about by streaming.

On the issue of equitable remuneration of music creators, the Government is shortly due to publish the “Creators’ Earnings in the Digital Age” research, which was commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office, which the Government describes as “the most comprehensive study of music creators’ earnings ever completed in the UK”.

The Committee welcomes publication of this research, which it expects to highlight the “pitiful earning of creators in the digital age” and hopes that it will corroborate what artists and musicians told the Committee inquiry.

The Government says that this research, together with the Committee’s report and the evidence generated from the inquiry, have provided ‘invaluable insights into the streaming environment”. However, they also show that there is still work to be done to understand the problems musicians are facing, and what impacts the various solutions proposed so far by the Committee and others might have on them and the wider music industry. The issue of remuneration is a complex area, the Government says, and more targeted research and evidence is needed before it can decide what action to take.

Accordingly, the Government says that it will continue working closely with music creators, record labels, and streaming services to develop a work programme that includes the following measures:

  • establishing a music industry contact group with senior representatives from across the music industry, which will convene this autumn and meet regularly over the next 12 months to drive action and examine stakeholder views on the key issues, including equitable remuneration, contract transparency, and platform liability rules introduced by the EU; this will complement separate ongoing work with industry to address broader welfare issues, such as bullying, harassment and discrimination, in the creative industries;
  • launching a research programme, alongside stakeholder engagement, in Autumn 2021, with a progress update in spring 2022; and
  • establishing two technical stakeholder working groups during the autumn of 2021; the first will work to agree standards for contract transparency and establish a code of practice for the music sector, and the second will address data issues and develop minimum data standards for the industry; both will be expected to update on progress after six months; the Government will also commission and publish an industry guide on data management in the music industry.

In Spring 2022, the Government says that it will take stock of its progress. It will update the music industry contact group and consider whether to take forward legislation in any areas. This review process will be repeated in the Autumn of 2022.

In its report the Committee also outlined a series of concerns around the possible market dominance of the major music groups and the potential for contractual agreements between them and streaming services to stifle innovation in the streaming market. The Government has directed the Committee’s recommendation for a market study into these issues to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) (see item below). To read the Committee’s news release click here and to read the Government’s response in full, click here.