British Government Set to Investigate Streaming Royalty Rates

This new initiative follows a 2021 report

Headphones and laptop
The U.K. is following a previous inquiry with a new one.
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It’s 2023, and music streaming royalties — a perennial source of existential frustration for virtually all working musicians — remain low. Earlier this year, Spotify was criticized for offering exposure to artists in exchange for an even lower royalty rate. With some artists opting out of touring entirely, these rates are nominally expected to be an even larger part of their income, making for an equation that fundamentally doesn’t work.

Earlier this year, we mentioned that the nonprofit group Public Knowledge called for a government investigation into music streaming. And evidently, one government is doing precisely that — though in this case it’s the U.K. government, rather than that of the U.S., that’s doing the investigating.

Writing at The Quietus, Christian Eede has more details on what the British government is planning. Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee recently announced a working group featuring, as per the announcement, “representatives and experts from across the music sector.”

Committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage MP addressed the formation of the working group in a statement. “The creation of a working group we have been calling for is a welcome step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry, Dame Dinenage said. “The Government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change so the talented creators and performers we have in this country are properly rewarded for their creativity.”

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As Eede noted in an earlier article, this isn’t the first time that the U.K.’s government has researched the matter; two years ago, a parliamentary inquiry argued that “streaming’s short-term pricing structure puts music at risk in the long-term.” The new working group is being established as a result of a report that followed up the 2021 report.

What’s less clear is what tangible change, if any, might come from this — even so, it seems like a more concerted effort than what the U.S. has done to date.

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