End-of-year message from BPI and BRITs boss Geoff Taylor to the music industry | notice | Opinion
The past 12 months have been marked by a high-stakes debate over the future direction of the music industry, which has grown in volume during hearings for the DCMS committee investigation in the streaming economy. Right here, Geoff Taylor, Managing Director of BPI and BRIT Awards returns to the debate and proposes the best way forward for all in 2022 …
As anyone who baked cottage pie for a family on a cold winter night knows, if you don’t do enough, the arguments tend to follow.
The ongoing debate, an important topic that deserves a mature and serious conversation, has recently made it seem like a reductive family argument. Make no mistake, the music industry is family, and maybe right now we’re not at our best. It’s time to take a moment to focus on some things we can agree on.
We know that streaming has allowed a lot more creators to try for careers – remember this famous statistic of around 60,000 new songs uploaded to Spotify per day. It is therefore more competitive than before to earn a living. The good news is that streaming is creating more winners – twice as many artists are now reaching 10 million streams per year compared to 10,000 sales in 2007 – but because the pool is so much bigger, there is also more artists than before who do not succeed. .
Ultimately, popularity is the key factor in determining who wins what. A new generation of talent from streaming is enjoying huge success, reaching hundreds of millions of streams. Watch artists like Dave, Glass Animals, Central Cee, Anne-Marie, Mimi Webb, Joel Corry, Headie One, and Becky Hill.
What this shows is that the partnership between the label and the artist – which is to cut the noise – is more important than ever. Artists choose to work with a label because it helps them be successful and they can go for a traditional deal with a big lead, or a joint venture, or a distribution or artist services deal – or they can go out as a DIY artist. They can retain control and the lion’s share of the income – or choose to maximize the investment and marketing in their careers. It’s a choice.
The right way to end this argument now is to start listening to each other
And the conditions that creators receive have improved significantly. In a traditional deal, artist royalty rates for streaming are on average 40% higher than they were for CDs. The recent IPO Creators’ Earnings study shows that since 2008, the actual earnings of songwriters have increased 11%, while the earnings of record labels have fallen 19%. It’s hard to get this over loud voices across the kitchen table, but these realities are not in dispute. So there are legitimate questions based on far-reaching proposals for law reform, as Labor MP Kevin Brennan’s private bill has shown.
Independent labels are deeply concerned that far from helping them and their artists, the new regulations will hamper their ability to invest in new artists and mean that many independent artists, on new contracts, find themselves in a worse position.
As so often in an argument, the big picture has been lost. The proposals ignore that the UK is in a critical race for relevance in a global streaming economy. New regulations will make the UK a less attractive place to invest in talent, reducing our global influence and long-term success. This means that future artists and fans will be the losers.
There has been no evidence of the bill’s economic impact, and the government rightly concluded in September that the legislation would be premature. It has set up a working group process to encourage industry solutions and BPI members are keen to ensure a result that is appreciated by all.
The right way to end this argument now is to start listening to yourself – while making a bigger pie.
See the latest issue of Music week for more senior executives on 2021’s Biggest Stories.
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