Noel Gallagher, Robert Plant, Lily Allen and Rebecca Ferguson are among a host of stars calling on Boris Johnson to take action and update the law on streaming rights.
They are among more than 150 artists who have signed a letter to the prime minister urging him to help redress the balance when it comes to the streaming economy, asking to “put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers”.
It comes following a government inquiry into how revenue from streaming is distributed, and as many musicians are speaking out about how little they get paid though the current system.
The letter is backed by the Musicians’ Union and the Ivors Academy, collectively representing tens of thousands of UK performers, composers and songwriters, in partnership with the #BrokenRecord campaign led by artist and songwriter Tom Gray.
“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,” the letter states, pointing out that most featured artists receive “tiny fractions of a US cent per stream” and that session musicians receiving nothing at all.
It says that “only two words need to change in the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act… so that today’s performers receive a share of revenues, just like they enjoy in radio”. According to the letter, this change “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”, and will contribute to the “levelling-up agenda as we kickstart the post-COVID economic recovery”.
The Musicians’ Union has also published a petition reinforcing the calls and is urging people to sign.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the music business hard, with the Musicians’ Union saying its recent polling suggests about a third of artists in the UK are considering leaving the industry.
Tom Gray, founder of the #BrokenRecord Campaign, said: “Our country prides itself on its formidable music pedigree. The signatories of this letter hope the generations that follow them can have the kind of sustained careers they have enjoyed. Today, there is much to indicate that kids need to be from wealthy backgrounds in order to risk working in the music sector.
“Streaming, a brilliant way of enjoying music, held the promise that smaller and mid-level artists might be able to live comfortably with a committed audience, instead only a few enjoy streaming’s rewards.
“Billions go to a few foreign corporations while, commonly, musicians and songwriters are experiencing financial difficulty.”