In April this year, more than 150 artists signed an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging for reform in the way streaming services pay artists. Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Damon Albarn, Chris Martin and Noel Gallagher were among the initial batch of signatories.
The letter reportedly received an “interested but non-committal reply” from a junior minister, per The Times.
Now, the #BrokenRecord campaign has sent Johnson another open letter, signed by 76 more artists. Besides the Stones, Strummer’s estate and Van Morrison, the names now joining the fold include: the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, Tom Jones, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, and the children of John Lennon and George Harrison.
The letter, which is due to be sent to Downing Street today (7 June), calls for the establishment of a regulatory body to “ensure the lawful and fair treatment of music-makers”.
“For too long, streaming platforms, record labels and other internet giants have exploited performers and creators without rewarding them fairly,” the letter reads. “We must put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music-makers.
“Streaming is quickly replacing radio as our main means of music communication. However, the law has not kept up with the pace of technological change, and, as a result, performers, producers and songwriters do not enjoy the same protections as they do in radio. Today’s musicians receive very little income from their performances – most featured artists receive tiny fractions of a US cent per stream and session musicians receive nothing at all.”
The news comes a little over two months after the final hearing of the UK’s parliamentary inquiry on the economics of music streaming, which began in October 2020.
A number of musicians have weighed in on the inquiry and its hearings. Speaking at a hearing, Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers claimed that “some labels keep up to 82 per cent of royalties received from services like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music”.
“It’s not the streaming services that we have the problem with,” Rodgers, who is also the co-founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, said. “It’s the labels that are perpetrating this.”
Commenting on the inquiry, Jimmy Page notably said: “The sooner the streaming companies can make fair payments to all musicians whose music is played on or viewed via the internet, and to pay fair royalties to those who give us great pleasure from those who are exploiting it, the better.”