Paul McCartney, Kate Bush and Damon Albarn urge PM to change music streaming law

Open letter also signed by Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox and 150 others

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Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Damon Albarn, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Marianne Faithfull, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Massive Attack, Roger Daltrey, Noel Gallagher, Joan Armatrading, The Chemical Brothers, David Gilmour and many more of the UK’s greatest living songwriters have put their name to an open letter, drafted by the Musicians’ Union, calling on the Prime Minister to fix the glaring inequalities in the music streaming system.

The economics of streaming have long been a bone of contention within the music industry, with many artists pointing out that they only receive a tiny fraction of a pence per stream, while major record companies have been able to cling on to a much greater revenue share based on laws and contracts drawn up in the pre-streaming era.

“For too long, streaming platforms, record labels and other internet giants have exploited performers and creators without rewarding them fairly,” reads the letter. “We must put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers.”

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The letter’s main proposal is a change to the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which will bring songwriting royalties for streaming in line with those from radio.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Commons Select Committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into the economics of music streaming, during which artists, label bosses and tech companies have given testimony to MPs. The results of the inquiry are expected in the summer.

Read the full text of the open letter and list of signatories below. You can sign the petition yourself here.

“Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you on behalf of today’s generation of artists, musicians and songwriters here in the UK.

For too long, streaming platforms, record labels and other internet giants have exploited performers and creators without rewarding them fairly. We must put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers.

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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 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.

To remedy this, only two words need to change in the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. This will modernise the law so that today’s performers receive a share of revenues, just like they enjoy in radio. It won’t cost the taxpayer a penny but will put more money in the pockets of UK taxpayers and raise revenues for public services like the NHS.

There is evidence of multinational corporations wielding extraordinary power and songwriters struggling as a result. An immediate government referral to the Competition and Markets Authority is the first step to address this. Songwriters earn 50% of radio revenues, but only 15% in streaming. We believe that in a truly free market the song will achieve greater value.

Ultimately though, we need a regulator to ensure the lawful and fair treatment of music makers. The UK has a proud history of protecting its producers, entrepreneurs and inventors. We believe British creators deserve the same protections as other industries whose work is devalued when exploited as a loss-leader.

By addressing these problems, we will make the UK the best place in the world to be a musician or a songwriter, allow recording studios and the UK session scene to thrive once again, strengthen our world leading cultural sector, allow the market for recorded music to flourish for listeners and creators, and unearth a new generation of talent.

We urge you to take these forward and ensure the music industry is part of your levelling-up agenda as we kickstart the post-Covid economic recovery.”

Damon Albarn OBE
Lily Allen
Wolf Alice
Marc Almond OBE
Joan Armatrading CBE
David Arnold
Massive Attack
Jazzie B OBE
Adam Bainbridge (Kindness)
Emily Barker
Gary Barlow OBE
Geoff Barrow
Django Bates
Brian Bennett OBE
Fiona Bevan
Aflie Boe OBE
Billy Bragg
The Chemical Brothers
Kate Bush CBE
Melanie C
Eliza Carthy MBE
Martin Carthy MBE
Celeste
Guy Chambers
Mike Batt LVO
Don Black OBE
Badly Drawn Boy
Chrissy Boy
Tim Burgess
Mairéad Carlin
Laura-Mary Carter
Nicky Chinn
Dame Sarah Connolly DBE
Phil Coulter
Roger Daltrey CBE
Catherine Anne Davies (The Anchoress)
Ian Devaney
Chris Difford
Al Doyle
Anne Dudley
Brian Eno
Self Esteem
James Fagan
Paloma Faith
Marianne Faithfull
George Fenton
Rebecca Ferguson
Robert Fripp
Shy FX
Gabrielle
Peter Gabriel
Noel Gallagher
Guy Garvey
Bob Geldof KBE
Boy George
David Gilmour CBE
Nigel Godrich
Howard Goodall CBE
Jimi Goodwin
Graham Gouldman
Tom Gray
Roger Greenaway OBE
Will Gregory
Ed Harcourt
Tony Hatch OBE
Richard Hawley
Justin Hayward
Fran Healy
Orlando Higginbottom
Jools Holland OBE, DL
Mick Hucknall
Crispin Hunt
Shabaka Hutchings
Eric Idle
John Paul Jones
Julian Joseph OBE
Kano
Linton Kwesi Johnson
Gary Kemp
Nancy Kerr
Richard Kerr
Soweto Kinch
Beverley Knight MBE
Mark Knopfler OBE
Annie Lennox OBE
Shaznay Lewis
Gary Lightbody OBE
Tasmin Little OBE
Calum MacColl
Roots Manuva
Laura Marling
Johnny Marr
Chris Martin
Claire Martin OBE
Cerys Matthews MBE
Sir Paul McCartney CH MBE
Horse McDonald
Thurston Moore
Gary “Mani” Mounfield
Mitch Murray CBE
Field Music
Frank Musker
Laura Mvula
Kate Nash
Stevie Nicks
Orbital
Roland Orzabal
Gary Osborne
Jimmy Page OBE
Hannah Peel
Daniel Pemberton
Yannis Philippakis
Anna Phoebe
Phil Pickett
Robert Plant CBE
Karine Polwart
Emily Portman
Chris Rea
Eddi Reader MBE
Sir Tim Rice
Orphy Robinson MBE
Matthew Rose
Nitin Sawhney CBE
Anil Sebastian
Peggy Seeger
Nadine Shah
Feargal Sharkey OBE
Shura
Labi Siffre
Martin Simpson
Skin
Mike Skinner
Curt Smith
Fraser T Smith
Robert Smith
Sharleen Spiteri
Lisa Stansfield
Sting CBE
Suggs
Tony Swain
Heidi Talbot
John Taylor
Phil Thornalley
KT Tunstall
Ruby Turner MBE
Becky Unthank
Norma Waterson MBE
Cleveland Watkiss MBE
Jessie Ware
Bruce Welch OBE
Kitty Whately
Ricky Wilde
Olivia Williams
Daniel “Woody” Woodgate
Midge Ure OBE
Nikki Yeoh

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