Ministers want ‘industry-led’ solution to give musicians more money for streaming

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The government will change the law to ensure musicians only receive more money from streaming if an “industry-led” solution cannot be found, a minister said.

Business Secretary George Freeman told MPs the government’s first instinct was to “avoid legislation” as it acknowledged there was a “problem” with musicians not receiving a substantial cut in income streaming.

His comments came as MPs debated the copyright (musicians’ rights and remuneration) bill, sponsored by Cardiff West Labor MP Kevin Brennan.

Kevin Brennan with Rebecca Ferguson in Parliament Square (Jonathan Stewart / PA) / PA Media

The bill, which did not receive government support, aimed to introduce a right to “fair remuneration” for streaming income, where performers have the right to receive a share without reference to their performance contracts. label.

It would also give musicians more say in how their music is used, with MPs learning that Dame Vera Lynn could have reclaimed the ownership rights to her music, receiving royalties after We’ll Meet Again and other favorites have seen a revival in recent years.

Mr Freeman told MPs: “If we can avoid the legislation but solve the problem in another way, that is our first instinct.

“But indeed, I want to be very clear if we conclude that legislative changes are the only way to achieve what the House is looking for, then that is entirely open to us.

George Freeman (Victoria Jones / AP) / AP Archives

“We want to work closely with the industry, and let me take this opportunity to make it clear to the industry, who will be watching this closely, that we think there is a problem, we want to make sure get it right, and we want to work with them to put the right measures in place.

Labor MP Brennan told MPs that “wonderful British artist” Dame Vera could have claimed the rights to her music had her proposals been passed.

He later said: “If after a 20 year period they are not happy with the efforts of record companies or publishers – and that would apply to Dame Vera Lynn, I am happy to say, if she was always with us – if if they were not happy with the efforts of record companies or publishers, musicians could give notice of their intention to claim their rights to exploit their music or to transfer that right to another house or some other publisher that might do a better job than the existing one.

He was responding to Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke (Dover), who described Dame Vera as “one of our most beloved artists and icons across the country,” adding: “Yet she ended up with a cover of some of his most famous and beloved songs. , and not receive royalties from a contract that was designed and signed before the Internet was even considered and built. “

Dame Vera Lynn (Zak Hussein / AP) / PA wire

Mr Brennan insisted his bill’s efforts to pay musicians for streaming were “not about lawlessness in the UK,” adding: “This bill is about fairness in the British music industry “.

Former Conservative cabinet minister Esther McVey backed the bill and said the taxpayer shouldn’t have footed the bill for big labels who failed to pay their artists ‘properly’ during the pandemic.

Ms McVey said: “Covid has put the spotlight on this area. In the past, artists could go out and earn extra money by performing at live events. Not now, they couldn’t, and they would depend a lot more on what came out of the stream.

“Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for these international giants who do not properly pay their contributors, creators, writers?


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