Record labels really, really don’t like a new Bill that could – eventually – change how artists get paid in the UK

Record corporations, each majors and indies, are up in arms over recommendations from a British politician that signed artists ought to see a portion of their UK streaming royalties bypass the label system totally, and be paid to performers instantly by way of a assortment society.

This suggestion seems in a draft Bill titled Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, Etc) , which was revealed at the moment (November 24) by Labour politician Kevin Brennan and will probably be offered to UK Parliament subsequent Friday (December 3).

Brennan sits on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DMCS), the cross-party UK Parliamentary group which, again in January, grilled (on a dwell video stream) the nation’s main label heads throughout an inquiry into the Economics of Music Streaming.

The findings of that inquiry resulted in an infamously main label-critical report revealed in July.

One particular suggestion from stated report was for artists in the UK to start out being paid royalties for streams by way of a system of ‘Equitable Remuneration’.

The draft ‘Brennan Bill’, revealed at the moment, seeks to jot down this mannequin of Equitable Remuneration (ER) into UK regulation.

Applying ER to streams would align the approach artists are paid their streaming royalties with the approach royalties are paid to artists from radio play in the UK.

Currently, a portion (50%) of recorded music royalties from radio in the UK is paid on to performers by way of a assortment society – bypassing artists’ document label offers, and due to this fact additionally bypassing any recoupment costs these artists may owe their label/s for previously-paid advances.

The thought of requiring streaming platforms to undertake ER by regulation has been backed by artists like Sir Paul McCartney, Chris Martin and Stevie Nicks.

Yet the ER system – particularly that ‘portion of royalty payments bypassing record labels’ bit – has been described by the The BPI, the physique that represents main document corporations in the UK, as “a recipe for disaster” that would “dramatically shrink the total pool of royalties available to labels and artists”.


The draft Bill revealed by Kevin Brennan MP at the moment proposes that The UK’s Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 ought to be amended to provide artists the proper to Equitable Remuneration from streaming.

(The intricacies of how this might work in follow are defined properly right here, together with the truth that Brennan’s Bill makes a particular exemption for these artists not signed to a document label-type associate – i.e. DIY acts – who wouldn’t stand to achieve ought to payouts of their streaming royalties instantly be diverted by way of a assortment society.)

Surprise, shock: Major and indie document labels really don’t like the sound of this Bill, in any respect.

A spokesperson for the BPI claimed at the moment that ought to the contents of the Bill be voted into UK regulation, it will imply “a damaging step backwards” for the British music business.

“This Bill would bind British music in red tape, reduce income for the most entrepreneurial artists, stifle investment and innovation by record labels, and disproportionately harm the independent sector”.

BPI spokesperson

Said the BPI spokesperson: “This Bill would bind British music in red tape, reduce income for the most entrepreneurial artists, stifle investment and innovation by record labels, and disproportionately harm the independent sector.

 “It would create huge uncertainty and deny many of the next generation of artists their shot to build a career. It completely misunderstands today’s music business, and the value that labels provide in finding and nurturing talent.

“Labels are committed to ensuring artists are rewarded in line with their success from streaming, but just as British music is finally climbing out of its long downturn, this misguided, outdated regulation would be a damaging step backwards, eroding the foundations of the UK’s extraordinary global success in music.”

“We think the approach to streaming should be data first, discussion second, and law last.”

Association Of Independent Music

The Association Of Independent Music (AIM) – whose members embody the likes of Partisan Records, XL Recordings, Domino Recording Co,  Secretly Group, [PIAS], and Beggars Group – is equally sceptical about Brennan’s invoice, and in explicit the ER component of it.

Said AIM in a assertion: “We think the approach to streaming should be data first, discussion second, and law last – we have expressed our concerns and are open to reviewing and discussing them with all stakeholders to figure out the best way forward. Legislating before this is reckless”.

Brennan himself stated: “More and more people are streaming music – heightened by the pandemic – yet, unlike for radio, there is no guaranteed royalty payment for all the musicians who have contributed to the recording being streamed. To redress this, my private member’s bill seeks to allow performers and composers to access means to ensure a fair sharing of revenues generated from their works.

“These reforms would lead to more new music, the revival of recording studios, a boost to the UK session music scene, the unearthing of a new generation of British talent, and Britain becoming once again a world-leading cultural hub for the recorded music industry.”

Kevin Brennan MP

“In particular, the Bill will introduce a right to Equitable Remuneration for performers on musical works, where works that they have performed upon are made available to the public.

“These reforms would lead to more new music, the revival of recording studios, a boost to the UK session music scene, the unearthing of a new generation of British talent, and Britain becoming once again a world-leading cultural hub for the recorded music industry.”


Even if Brennan’s Bill shouldn’t be actively opposed in Parliament subsequent Friday, it has a lengthy method to go to if it’s to eventually be signed into UK regulation.

If it’s not halted at the first hurdle subsequent week, the Bill’s suggestions will then be additional reviewed by one other committee from one wing of the UK Parliament (the House Of Commons) earlier than a closing vote from MPs.

Then, if it achieves approval in that vote, it is going to must be moreover debated – and authorized once more – by a completely different set of British lawmakers, in the House Of Lords.

But make no mistake: there’s a likelihood this Bill could eventually change into regulation. And document labels don’t like it one little bit.


The Bill, which you’ll be able to learn in full right here, additionally proposes varied different modifications to copyright regulation beneath a part titled “Composers and songwriters: transparency, contract adjustment and right of revocation”.

The ‘right of revocation’ states that an “author may, after a period of 20 years has elapsed following [a] transfer or licence [of their copyright], revoke in whole or in part the transfer or licence of rights”.

In different phrases, a songwriter would be capable of reclaim the rights to their songs which had been beforehand “transferred or exclusively licensed” to a writer after that 20 yr interval.

Under Brennan’s ‘contract adjustment amendment’ an creator could declare “additional, fair and reasonable remuneration from the person with whom they entered into a contract for the exploitation of their rights… in the event that the remuneration originally agreed is disproportionately low compared to all subsequent revenues derived from the exploitation of the rights”.

In different phrases, a songwriter or artist could doubtlessly renegotiate the phrases of an outdated settlement with a label or writer, by regulation, if the remuneration they initially agreed to is deemed “disproportionately low” in comparison with business requirements at the time of them desirous to renegotiate.


The publication of the draft textual content comes a month after a group of 44 British politicians from the ruling Conservative occasion wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for a legislative change to the approach streaming corporations pay royalties in the market.

That group of lawmakers additionally steered that the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act ought to be amended to power the likes of Spotify to pay royalties by way of a system of ‘equitable remuneration’ (ER) by way of a royalty assortment society.

Within that letter, ‘the behavior’ of streaming corporations and main labels in the market was in comparison with that of the prime flight soccer groups that tried to hitch the doomed European Super League, the formation of which was broadly accused of being pushed by greed.

In the politicians’ letter, they counsel that “These huge and often foreign-owned multinational corporations have done astronomically well this past year compared to artists”.

In an op/ed for the Times final month, Esther McVey, a Conservative MP who’s listed as a supporter of Brennan’s Bill, argues that amending the copyright act to power the adoption of ‘equitable remuneration “will take to put more money in the pockets of British artists”.

Furthermore, she suggests that “given that much less cash will go away the British music business to finish up in international boardrooms, it means we will probably be producing extra tax for public companies like the NHS, in addition to creating extra British jobs in the music businessMusic Business Worldwide