Nile Rodgers calls on MPs to tackle 'unfair' streaming system
Chic frontman Nile Rodgers has told an inquiry there needs to be more transparency around the “unfair” streaming platform system, saying artists are “really kept in the dark” about the worth of their music.
The 68-year-old star appeared before MPs as part of an inquiry into the impact of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, following on from Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Radiohead‘s Ed O’Brien and solo artist Nadine Shah, who gave evidence in November and warned that the future of music is under threat.
With live venues closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been increased scrutiny on streaming while it is many musicians’ only source of income.
Rodgers told the digital, culture, media and sport committee that record labels are seeking to hide the “humongous difference” between what a stream is worth and what musicians are paid.
“When you see the disparity, it’s just absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
Appearing via video-link from the US, the musician said: “Let’s pay these people what they should have been making all along and we are going to be one big happy family.”
Streaming finances are shrouded in mystery, Rodgers said. “We don’t even know what a stream is worth and there’s no way you could even find out what a stream is worth, and that’s not a good relationship.”
Artists “do not get their fair share of the pie”, he added.
Rodgers told the inquiry that while he loves “the convenience” of streaming, the system is unfair and there needs to be a “re-evaluation of the relationship” between musicians and platforms.
The UK could be a “leader” in changing the music streaming model, he said.
Rodgers suggested that streaming companies should have to buy a licence to use an artist’s material and each stream should not be treated as an individual sale. This would allow artists to take a bigger cut of the fee from streaming companies, he said.
Meanwhile, an association of musicians has called on the government to introduce tougher regulations on streaming platforms.
The Ivors Academy of Music Creators said copyright laws should be changed to ensure writers and performers are paid more for their work.
Chief executive Graham Davies said: “UK songwriters are the best in the world.
“To remain a world leader, to recover from COVID and power the future UK economy, we need songwriters and their publishers to get a higher value from streaming.”
In May, the Ivors Academy and the Musicians’ Union launched the Keep Music Alive campaign, calling streaming royalties “woefully insufficient” and urging the government to undertake a review.