BMG has formally welcomed last week’s report on the economics of streaming from the UK Parliament’s culture select committee, saying that MPs pretty much share its viewpoint that “the music industry desperately needs to modernise”. However, it added that it hoped that regulatory action wouldn’t be necessary.
The Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee’s report concluded that artists and songwriters in the main have not benefited from the streaming boom, in no small part because of how record deals are structured and interpreted, the way streaming monies are split between the song rights and the recording rights, and the dominance of the majors.
In addition to calling for a Competition & Markets Authority investigation into the role of the majors in the music rights business, MPs also proposed a number of changes to UK copyright law to empower artists. That includes the principle of performer equitable remuneration being applied to the making available element of the sound recording copyright, meaning artists would be due a cut of streaming monies at industry standard rates oblivious of any record contracts they have signed.
In a statement on Friday, BMG said: “We congratulate the DCMS committee on the most significant inquiry into the British music industry since their predecessor committee investigated CD pricing nearly 30 years ago. The MPs’ searing analysis reflects our own view that the music industry desperately needs to modernise and recognise that the purpose of the music business is to serve artists and songwriters rather than simply to extract value from them”.
“The anger felt by artists and songwriters is not just a UK phenomenon”, it went on. “It is being felt worldwide. And it is time for the industry to respond. The world has changed and, as in so many areas, exploitative behaviour is no longer acceptable”.
Noting the proposed changes to UK copyright law, BMG said that it hoped its rivals, especially the majors, might make voluntary changes to their practices, that would remove the need for legislative solutions. It said: “The committee has called for regulatory action. We hope that will not be necessary, but executives and shareholders alike need to accept that they cannot continue as before. It is a privilege to work in music. That privilege should not be abused”.
Referencing the fact that the current BMG business only launched in 2008, the statement concluded: “BMG is fortunate in having been able to start from scratch in 2008. We were able to design out many historic practices from the outset. We have tackled several more since then. We are certainly not perfect but we are committed to make things better. We stand ready to work with like minds to ensure the music industry works for the people who actually make the music”.
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