Music streaming giants ‘open’ to alternative ways for paying artists

Senior executives from Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music faced questions from MPs on Tuesday.

Spotify
Spotify

Spotify has said it is open to alternative models for calculating how artists should be paid amid concerns about how little emerging musicians are able to earn.

Senior executives from the Swedish firm and rival streaming giants Amazon Music and Apple Music signalled they would be willing to work together as an industry.

One idea put to companies by MPs is the user centric model, whereby the more a certain artist gets listened to, the more they get paid.

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s head of global affairs and chief legal officer, said that while the business would consider different ways, research it has already done on the user centric model may not yield better results for artists.

“The initial research of the user centric model doesn’t really show a dramatic shift the way that many thought that it might, but on the other hand if musicians and artists in general prefer the model we would support doing the additional research,” he told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“Just keep in mind, a transition to a model like that would require, not only a decision on the part of Spotify, every licence agreement that we sign with every right holder all over the world would have to be transitioned into that model, so it is not a trivial position, but if people thought it was a model that would be more equitable and more beneficial we’d absolutely be open-minded about it.”

Paul Firth, director of international music at Amazon agreed, saying: “I think the time has come now for the UK industry to come together and to openly model and analyse what other distribution models could look like.

“Amazon would be willing and would actually be very keen to be part of that.”

Elena Segal, global senior director of music publishing at Apple, took a more cautious approach, saying the idea was “interesting”.

“The key thing for us is that there needs to be consensus among all licence laws, it’s not a model that you can apply to some licence laws and not to others, so obviously the only way to reach consensus like that is to get together as an industry,” she explained.

Elsewhere in the session, Spotify’s representative was asked about singer-songwriter Nadine Shah’s comments to the Committee last year, in which she said, “earnings from my streaming are not significant enough to keep the wolf away from the door”.

Mr Gutierrez said it was “unfortunate” to hear she felt that way, and that he was not aware of the split of the revenue she had agreed with her record label.

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