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UK Government Study Concludes Music Streamers Are Not Underpaying Artists

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(Hypebot) — Spotify, other streaming music services, and the major record labels are not making excessive profits at the expense of artists, according to a new UK government study. It’s a conclusion that many struggling artists and independent labels will find disheartening.

While the study was of the UK music market, its implications are global.

The year-long investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority acknowledged the concerns of artists but claimed that government intervention in the market would not help.

Who Wins?

0.4% of artists accounted for 60% of streams

The top 0.4% of artists accounted for 60% of all streams, leaving the remaining 99.6% of the 11 – 12 million artists on Spotify and other music streaming services to divide what’s left. A UK artist could expect to earn around £12,000 or $14,370 from 12 million streams in 2021, but less than 1% of artists achieve that level.

In addition to a few top artists, the real winners in the shift to music streaming were fans.

Prices for consumers fell by more than 20% between 2009 and 2021, according to the study, with some services also offering free ad-supported music streaming.

Deals for artists and songwriters are getting better, according to the report. Average royalty rates in major label deals have increased from 19.7% in 2012 to 23.3% in 2021, and the share of revenues going to songwriters and publishers increased from 8% in 2008 to 15% in 2021

Read the full report here.


Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.


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