The Rolling Stones, Pet Shop Boys, Emeli Sandé, Barry Gibb, Van Morrison, Sir Tom Jones and the Estates of John Lennon and Joe Strummer have written to the UK Prime Minister “on behalf of today’s generation of artists, musicians and songwriters here in the UK”.
All the modern British recording artists named by Boris Johnson in his Desert Island Discs are now represented on the letter (below).
In an unprecedented show of solidarity, they have added their names to a joint letter with artists such as Annie Lennox, Paloma Faith, Kano, Joan Armatrading, Chris Martin, Gary Barlow, Paul McCartney, Melanie C, Jimmy Page, Boy George, Noel Gallagher and Kate Bush, calling on the PM to update UK law to “put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers”.
This renewed call comes on the back of a report last week by The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) which said this is a "systemic problem [that] cries out for a systemic solution” and concluded that streaming should start to pay more like radio:
"The more global revenues surge, the harder it is for performers to understand why the imbalance is fair – because it is not...streaming remuneration likely should be considered for a communication to the public right."
More and more people are streaming music – heightened by the pandemic – but, as the artists point out, “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,” with most featured artists receiving tiny fractions of a US cent per stream” and session musicians receiving nothing at all.
The letter suggests 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” – a change which “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 which will contribute to the “levelling-up agenda as we kickstart the post-Covid economic recovery.”
The 234 signatories do not want streaming to be recognised as radio. Instead, they want streaming to share some of radio’s remuneration model so that they are paid more fairly.
Legislation, despite recognising that streaming is replacing sales, is yet to recognise that the technology is on its way to replacing radio too.
The letter is backed by the Musicians’ Union, the Ivors Academy and the Music Producer’s Guild, collectively representing tens of thousands of UK performers, composers and songwriters and producers, brought together in partnership with the #BrokenRecord campaign led by artist and songwriter, Tom Gray.