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The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and Yoko Ono urge UK to change music streaming laws

LONDON: Some of the biggest names in music have urged the United Kingdom government to change the way musicians are paid when their songs are streamed online via platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

The Rolling Stones and Tom Jones are among 75 artists who have signed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to change the law regarding streaming royalties.

Pet Shop Boys, Yoko Ono, Van Morrison, Barry Gibb, Emeli Sandé, and Jarvis Cocker are among the new signatories. The total number of signatures is now 227. “Streaming is quickly supplanting radio as our primary mode of music communication. However, the law has not kept pace with technological change, and as a result, performers and songwriters do not have the same protections as they do in radio “According to the letter,

“Today’s musicians earn very little money from their performances — most featured artists earn fractions of a cent per stream, and session musicians earn nothing.”

The campaigners, led by the Musicians’ Union, Music Producers Guild, Ivors Academy, and the #BrokenRecord initiative, claim that songwriters are suffering as a result of multinational corporations’ “extraordinary power.”

The tech behemoths that run streaming platforms and generate billions of pounds in revenue currently dictate how much artists and record labels are paid when their users stream songs.

However, the campaigners want the UK government to change the 1988 Copyright Act so that streaming services pay artists on par with radio stations. They are essentially requesting that a section of the act be rewritten so that equitable remuneration — a sum owed to artists whenever a sound recording of their performance is broadcast to the public — would apply to streaming.

“Songwriters earn 50% of radio revenue but only 15% of streaming revenue,” according to the letter. “We believe that the song will gain more value in a truly free market.”

Chris Martin, Paloma Faith, Jessie Ware, Boy George, Bob Geldof, Kate Nash, and Noel Gallagher from Coldplay have all signed the letter.

The Department of Culture, Media, and Sport in the United Kingdom has been looking into how music streaming revenues are distributed and whether it is done fairly. Nadine Shah, a Mercury Prize nominee, said she had to move back in with her parents because she couldn’t support herself financially on the money she earned from streaming.

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