EU urged to ensure bigger slice of $22.6bn music streaming pie for artists

MEPs want EU law that forces just pay for artists, fair algorithms, even quotas from music streaming platforms

Digital music platforms and music sharing services currently provide access to up to 100 million tracks either for free or for a comparatively low monthly subscription fee: yet a majority of authors and performers receive very low compensation on streams.

Now MEPs are demanding EU rules to ensure a fair and sustainable music streaming sector.

Streaming represents 67% of the music sector’s global revenue, with an annual revenue of $22.6 billion. A resolution in the European Parliament, backed by 532 votes to 61 against, now demands that the imbalance in streaming revenue to artists is addressed through a legal framework.

EU told to oblige streaming platforms to revise pre-digital royalty rates

Currently no EU rules apply on streaming services, which are the main way that people access music.

“The Parliament is giving voice to the concerns of European creators, who are at the heart of the music streaming market,” Spanish MEP Iban Garcia del Blanco (S&D) said.

“Cultural diversity and ensuring that authors are credited and fairly paid has always been our priority; this is why we ask for rules that ensure algorithms and recommendation tools used by music streaming services are transparent as well as in their use of AI tools, placing European authors at the centre.”

The resolution backed by MEPs calls for a revision of “pre-digital royalty rates” because these payola schemes force authors to accept lower or no revenues in exchange for greater visibility.

MEPs also want guarantees that European musical works are visible, prominent and accessible, among the “overwhelming amount” of constantly growing content on music streaming platforms. They said they would back a quota for European works.

Any EU bill on this initiative would also oblige platforms to make their algorithms and recommendation tools transparent, to prevent unfair practices, such as manipulation of streaming figures, allegedly used to reduce artists’ fees.

MEPs suggested introducing a label to inform the public when the songs they listen to have been generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and urge for deepfakes on music streaming platforms that use identities, voices and likenesses of authors without their consent, to be tackled.

Finally, MEPs point to studies indicating that revenues in the streaming market go primarily to major labels and a few most popular artists, while the less popular styles and less common languages are played less frequently.

They said EU legislation should include diversity indicators to assess the array of genres and languages available and the presence of independent authors.

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