Belfast Telegraph

UK Music calls for a halt to ‘free ride’ on British artists via streaming

The group’s chief said there are still concerns about the value gap in streaming services, despite the industry’s positive boost in figures.

UK Music has called on music streaming platforms to end their “free ride” by providing better deals to British artists.

The campaigning group, which covers all areas of the music industry, said there is an urgent need to address the value gap encouraged by a “culture of denial” among tech giants.

Chief executive Michael Dugher commented as the group shared its annual Measuring Music report, which showed a spike in both music-related employment and sales.

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Figures showed that the music sector had contributed a £4.4 billion boost to the UK economy in the last year, with live music bringing in £1 billion, recorded music bringing in £640 million and music exports bringing in a total £2.5 billion.

It also showed that the industry had opened up 142,208 jobs, mostly in the musicians and songwriters category – a 19% rise on last year’s number.

“The headline figures in this year’s Measuring Music report are undoubtedly excellent news,” said Dugher.

“The number of new jobs created in the UK rose at a faster pace than the rest of the employment market and our export figures shot up across the board. The outlook for the music business is better than it has been in years.

“But we urgently need to address the ‘value gap’ on the new and exciting platforms that many people now use to listen to music.

“Unlike subscription services, those platforms often offer little adequate reward to the investors and creators of the music that drives so much of their traffic.

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“There is still too often a culture of denial from the big tech firms. The way people listen to music may be changing, but certain fundamental responsibilities must continue. It’s time for the free ride to come to an end.”

The report revealed that YouTube was the most popular platform for listening to audio content online, with almost a third of participants using it most recently.

It was followed by Spotify with 16%, CD with 15%, Facebook with 13%, iTunes with 8% and BBC iPlayer Radio with 7%.

But while Dugher welcomed the numbers, which all showed a rise on last year’s figures, the study also found that exactly half of music industry professionals fear that Brexit will have a negative impact on the sector.

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The increase in consuming music via online platforms has also had an impact on the Official Charts Company, which this week announced it will be including streams in its sales counts.

It will be marking the change next month with the release of Now That’s What I Call A Million, a compilation album featuring the likes of The Killers, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Little Mix, whose tracks have reached a million sales.

According to the Music Consumer Insight Report by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) this week, 45% of music fans worldwide use licensed streaming services – an 8% rise on last year – with 85% of young people choosing such platforms as their preferred way to access music.

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