Watchdog’s music industry investigation finds no competition issues

The UK’s competition watchdog has said a concentration of power in the hands of a few streaming music services and record labels is hurting neither listeners nor musicians, despite the pleas of some in the industry.

The Competition and Markets Authority said things were “good” for music consumers and “generally improving” for musicians, although it acknowledged there were challenges for some.

The regulator said it lacked the powers to address concerns some musicians and other industry participants had raised in the consultations.

“We found that findings affecting many stakeholders are unlikely to be primarily driven by competition,” it said in its final report on the matter, released on Tuesday.

“As a result, a competitive intervention is unlikely to improve overall results and release more money into the system to pay creators more.”

It came despite an earlier call from the Musicians’ Union saying in a presentation released in September that addressing competition issues could boost revenue or ensure that revenue is better shared with artists.

This “would also benefit consumers by improving the music they listen to,” the union said at the time.

But in their final report, CMA officials concluded that “results for artists are being driven by factors that are largely unrelated to issues of competition in the marketplace.”

Instead these findings are more “inherent in how music streaming works.”

The regulator said the government had taken steps to address concerns about how much artists are being paid and MPs had suggested reforms.

The Intellectual Property Office is also conducting an investigation into how it could strengthen creators’ rights.

The CMA found that the top three UK labels held a combined 70% of all single streams in the UK.

He also said that less than 1% of artists generate the million streams a month needed to earn just £12,000 a year from their music.

In total, UK listeners streamed songs some 138 billion times last year, the CMA said.

The regulator has, however, encouraged companies to share more information about streaming numbers and breakdowns with their artists.

While just 0.4% of artists accounted for 60% of all streams in the UK, there has been a doubling of the number of artists releasing music from 200,000 in 2014 to 400,000 in 2020.

The CMA also said that while revenue for the music industry fell from a peak of £1.9bn in 2001 to just £800m in 2015, it has since recovered slightly to £1.1bn in 2015. 2021.

This occurred even as consumer prices fell by 20% between 2009 and 2021, the report found.

“Streaming has transformed the way music fans access vast catalogs of music, providing artists with an invaluable platform to reach new listeners quickly, and at a price to consumers that has declined in real terms over the years,” he said. said Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive officer of CMA.

“However, we have heard from many artists and songwriters across the UK how they struggle to make a decent living off these services.

“These are understandable concerns, but our findings show they are not the result of ineffective competition, and the CMA’s intervention would not release more money into the system that would help artists or songwriters.”

Will Page, former chief economist at Spotify and PRS for Music, added: “Since Spotify launched in the UK, the number of UK artists has tripled from 47,000 to 139,000 (and songwriters from 65,000 to 160,000).

“We should celebrate, not commiserate; it’s a big win for Creative Britain. But we shouldn’t ignore simple arithmetic, as the music industry earns more but simply has a lot more mouths to feed.”

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