The movement to ensure musicians receive fairer pay is picking up cross-bench support

Support us and go ad-free

The government will change the law to make sure musicians get more money from streaming only if an “industry-led” solution cannot be found, a minister has said. At the same time, the movement to ensure musicians receive fairer pay is picking up cross-bench support.

The “problem”

Business minister George Freeman told MPs the Government’s first instinct was to “avoid legislation”, as he acknowledged there was a “problem” of musicians not receiving a substantial cut of streaming revenues. His comments came as MPs debated the Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians) Bill, sponsored by Labour MP for Cardiff West Kevin Brennan.

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

The Private Member’s Bill, which did not receive backing from the government, sought to introduce a right to “equitable remuneration” for streaming income, where performers have a right to receive a share without reference to their label contracts. It would also give musicians more of a say over how their music is used, with MPs hearing that dame Vera Lynn could have reclaimed ownership rights to her music, receiving royalties after We’ll Meet Again and other favourites experienced a revival in recent years.

Freeman told MPs:

If we can avoid legislation but solve the problem in some other way, that’s our first instinct. But indeed, I want to make very clear if we conclude that legislative changes are the only way to achieve what the House is looking for, then that is very much open to us.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

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

George Freeman
George Freeman (Victoria Jones/PA)

Labour MP Brennan told MPs that “wonderful British artist” Vera Lynn would have been able to reclaim rights to her music if his proposals were made law.

He later said:

If, after a period of 20 years, they are dissatisfied with the efforts being made by record labels or publishers – and this would apply to Dame Vera Lynn, I am glad to say, were she still with us – if they are dissatisfied with the efforts being made by record labels or publishers, musicians could give notice of their intention to reclaim their rights to exploit their music or transfer that right to another label or publisher who 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 loved entertainers and icons across the country”, adding:

Yet she found herself with a revival of some of her most famous and beloved songs, and not receiving royalties from a contract that was conceived and signed before the internet had even been considered and built.

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

Brennan insisted his Bill’s efforts to remunerate musicians for streaming was “not about anarchy in the UK”, adding:

This Bill is about equity in the UK music industry.

Conservative former cabinet minister Esther McVey gave her backing to the Bill, and said the taxpayer should have not picked up the bill for big labels who did not pay their artists “correctly” during the pandemic. McVey said:

Covid shone a spotlight into this area. In the past, artists could go out and earn extra money through performing at live events. Not now, they couldn’t, and they would rely far more heavily on what was coming through from streaming.

Why should the taxpayer pick up the bill for these international giants who aren’t paying their contributors, creators, writers, correctly?

That is wrong.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us