The latest salvo in the debate about music streaming’s economics – and particularly royalties for artists – comes from the European Music Managers Alliance (Emma).
In a statement issued this morning, it has praised streaming for returning the recorded music industry to growth, but claimed that “the fact that streaming services are still licensed on the basis of the world as it was ten years ago – not the world as it is now – means too little of that $1m per hour is reaching those who create and perform the music we love”.
Emma has identified four areas where its manager members would like to see change. They include updating artist contracts (“Analogue royalty rates should not apply to digital income, outdated deductions should be removed, and un-recouped balances reviewed after a reasonable period of time…”) and eliminating ‘black box’ distributions (“While unidentified and non-matched writers revenues… will frequently belong to the lowest earning songwriters, they are typically reallocated by market share to the highest-earning, or to those with inside knowledge of Performance Rights Organisation (PRO) mechanisms…”)
Emma is also calling for “a full and transparent trial of what are known as user-centric payment systems” and is pushing for “EU-wide strategies to restart and reopen, financially supporting artist-businesses to return post-pandemic”. The body’s new campaign comes ahead of the British Parliament’s inquiry into streaming economics, and can be seen partly as a preview of some of the arguments that will be made by manager and artist representatives for its hearings.
Today’s statement is also notable for what’s not included. There is no demand for streaming services to raise their subscription prices to increase the royalties pool, as some other artist-focused campaigns have called for. For now, Emma is training its sights squarely on labels – even the user-centric demand, since Deezer’s attempts to launch exactly such a trial have so far failed to secure the agreement of key labels – and collecting societies, rather than on attacking streaming services directly.