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MPG backs BASCA’s digital pie campaign

By | Published on Monday 16 March 2015


The Music Producers Guild is backing the songwriting community in its bid to get a bigger slice of the monies generated by streaming music services.

As previously reported, the ‘digital pie’ debate has increased in volume in recent months, with artists, songwriters and some music publishers reckoning that record companies are getting a disproportionate share of the monies paid into the music community by streaming music services.

The digital splits between the different stakeholders in music copyright are very much based on the way money is divvied up when a CD is sold. Artists, songwriters and publishers may see a percent or two more of streaming income than they do from physical music product, but in the main the lion’s share of the loot ends up with the label.

Record companies argue that they spend the most money producing, distributing and marketing recorded music, and are still the primary risk takers when it comes to new talent, and that they need their big cut of the resulting streaming income to justify those investments. They also insist that if everyone would just wait for streaming to go truly mainstream, each party’s respective cut of the ‘pie’ would be sufficiently sized to keep everyone properly nourished.

But some key artists, songwriters and publishers say that – while it may be true labels are still the primary investors in new talent and content – the labels’ risks are less in digital than they are in physical. Others argue that streaming is more like radio than CD, and in broadcast royalties are traditionally split pretty much four ways between labels, artists, publishers and songwriters.

As previously reported, the British Association Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors weighed into this debate earlier this year with its The Day The Music Died campaign, arguing that the current set-up is simply unsustainable for any songwriter who isn’t also a featured artist.

And this weekend the Music Producers Guild came out in support of that campaign. MPG Director Mick Glossop told reporters: “We feel it is important for the MPG to back this campaign because songwriters, along with record producers, are suffering as a result of the vastly diminished income from sales of recorded music, and we believe that changes are needed in order to re-balance the income streams”.

In the US, where songwriters and publishers are also getting vocal about digital royalties, much of the battle is taking place in Congress and the courtroom, because the publishing side of the business is constrained by compulsory licenses and inflexible collective licensing rules, both of which the songs industry is trying to alter.

But in the Europe, where the current royalties framework is less the result of statutory intervention, it’s less clear where to take the fight. And that’s topic we’ll be tackling during CMU Insights @ The Great Escape this May – watch this space!