It would be really great if we could round up lots of strong member responses here - evidence, feelings, support for a more co-operative and less extractive model for music streaming…
We could consolidate into a formal submission from Resonate to DCMS (the Department of Culture ,Media and Sport) to counterbalance the lobbying and money that will be going into the counter-submissions from the mega-streamers.
I’m sure there will be many others who will weigh in, but I hope we can show we have your support and vision and deserve more government support and encouragement for co-operative music streaming.
Just a while back (28th July) we wrote a letter in support of one of the MP’s who pressed this heavily with the UK Government in the Select Committee (scrutiny) system, with evidence from MrTomGray Our letter pointed to alternative business models and the need to support them. I’d like to think that that last question of the enquiry…
“Do alternative business models exist? How can policy favour more equitable business models?”
…owes something to what we sent them in our July message.
I’m sceptical anything will change. So far governments around the world have been intimidated by the power of big tech. I am happy to contribute to an official Resonate response. I wonder if my thoughts would have more power separately, as I’m a UK citizen and voter.
I have started on a draft, but I would really appreciate some thoughts from our wider community in shaping a Resonate response… first thoughts are to make it a POSITIVE statement, with evidence, that alternative models, as illustrated by Resonate, are not only possible, but should be actively encouraged by Governments. There will be plenty of ‘knocking copy’ already about the big streamers… but not much on real alternatives.
We have internal evidence (plans and forecasts) on the business model for the co-op to show how this is sustainably viable and equitable: to show how we can be ethical and viable, without advertising or corporate deals, or relying on some highly-geared ‘pump-and-dump’ startup fundraising. We can table all that… but we will need more I think…
Especially external evidence, from the music ‘ecosystem’ itself about how we could make a positive difference to artists, listeners and other stakeholders around us. These need not be quantitative statements of $ value… they could be qualitative and anecdotal… the main thing is to get lots of evidence/testimony, as diverse as possible, to help us paint a compelling picture of how the music and storytelling ecosystem could be better with Resonate and others like it.
To collect some of this external evidence I thought I would ask first here, but also put up a questionnaire post on the co-op website and ping out on twitter to our wider followers to get a response. Draft questions to follow…
Thank you to everyone who submitted a response! There were some great insights and evidence for us to draw on in our submission:
…including a hugely supportive quote from Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK:
"Streaming has become a primary way in which we listen to music, but too many artists and songwriters are currently struggling to earn income from prolific use of their music due to the way the rights are administered. It’s critical that MPs on the DCMS Select Committee find solutions. The platform co-op model, pioneered by Resonate, offers a way to reshape the economics of music streaming, so that it works better for artists, listeners and businesses. We support DCMS ambition to do more to enable innovations which will allow our music economy to thrive in the UK."
James Wright, Policy Officer, Co-operatives UK said of our response: “This is great. It really should stand out among responses to the alternative business model question.”
Here’s the Exec Summary of our submission:
Resonate is a proven multi-stakeholder platform co-operative in music streaming, owned by its artists, listeners and volunteers.
It has an innovative progressive pricing model which is both attractive to listeners who wish to explore new music, and provides a decent reward for artists and their music.
It is a community service, maintaining a healthy cultural ‘habitat’ essential in stimulating the creation of new music and boosting the UK creative economy.
UK Government should:
Promote fair competition and diversity in the streaming industry where large services would otherwise gain excessive dominance and influence
Set a minimum streaming rate
Improve access to funding for democratically-governed organisations which provide a fairer distribution of rewards for creative work. Insist on transparency and openness.
Endorse and promote co-operative streaming and reward
Enable suitable capital investment
Consider use of co-operative streaming as an efficient and transparent channel for arts, educational and community support, able to support national, local or even global community priorities and themes.
Encourage engagement of co-operative streaming in community and education settings
Consider a direct investment in musical culture through a lightly subsidized co-operative streaming rate
UK creative industries, the bedrock of future economic recovery, are struggling with the impact of the pandemic and extended lockdown. We believe that co-operative streaming could be a partner in rebuilding a sustainable local entertainment and distribution sector.
In my opinion Equitable Remuneration and User Centric Payment is not enough. Especially if the implementation and operation of ER and UCP is be left to largely the same organisations, with otherwise unchanged business models. These are not sufficient answers to reform of streaming in favour of the new and emerging artist. Truly alternative, co-operative community models DO exist and need to be encouraged if they are to survive alongside the venture capital funded ‘big-tech’ ventures.
The inquiry evidence deadline date has been extended until Friday 11th December, so please feel free to make your own voices heard on this directly, in addition to our survey response and submission. Thank you everyone!
Great message to us from Dr Conor Durham, the specialist behind the inquiry:
“I wanted to reassure you that all evidence that is submitted is considered by the Committee and feeds into the inquiry’s final Report. I am also personally intrigued by the co-operative model you set out and am glad you submitted evidence on it.”
The big streaming services and the major record labels now appear to be fighting like rats in a sack on whose fault it is that artists and writers get so little. " Streaming services cannot directly affect artist payouts from intermediates, nor do they have visibility into how much artists ultimately earn" says Will Page, until recently the Chief Economist at Spotify…
Well, Will… if there are NO ‘intermediates’ (other than friendly independent ones) and the artists and listeners OWN the platform, then there could be fair earnings with COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY.
The answer is not just a better sort of intermediary for the big streaming services to work with (Merlin for example) - we need to reform streaming services themselves… or leave them in search of an alternative.
It does have some interesting figures and solid economic analysis of a mass-market music industry… where wealth continues to flow to those who acquire and leverage music as a capital asset rather than art. We know things could be different among those who care.
Sadly I am somewhat cynical. The music industry is absolutely global, so any recommendation the UK govt might come up with would have to be agreed by the EU and USA in the least. It looks like the USA is heading in the opposite direction to the EU on tech companies and copyright etc.
Still, it is good to have a chance to be heard.
I wish artists/musicians could band together a bit more, speak with one voice.
The pandemic has devastated much of the music industry, something meaningful income from recordings could have rescued. However, too many times I’ve seen major label signed artists interviewed in the media about the last year (2020) and they’ve been almost unanimously upbeat - “it has given me more free time to write some great songs” etc…
Agree that it’s hard for the UK to challenge the global industry, but airing the key issues in this formal setting is some progress and may lead to some policy or funding steps in future.
Though there doesn’t seem to be one organisation that is bringing all artists together, the Featured Artists Coalition has been doing some great work and the fact they helped get the PRS live streaming tariff decision altered, along with support from the Music Venue Trust is good.
Major label artists are never going to want to rock the boat / bite the hand that feeds them. Others have been very vocal.
When you get to living legend status like Nile Rodgers it’s easier. He was great giving evidence to the UK Parliament DCMS streaming inquiry!
Yes it’s solidarity that will keep the struggle alive… providing a voice for those who have given up on a career in music in order to survive the past year, offsetting those upbeat messages of major artists and major labels (who have profited massively - as Spotify has pointed out)
The other thing that is great about the inquiry is the way it has flushed out a more open debate and has provided more data in the evidence published. There is a huge resource there, and reading between the lines on many of the evidence submissions is informative. Have a look on the site. Over 200 submissions.
Take a look at YouTube’s submission for example. Nowhere does it mention what their abysmal average payout per stream is … but it does say:
Our business model relies on twin engines, the first of which is advertising-supported. In a way that no other platform can or does, our ad-supported, free-to-the-user platform allows us to monetise users who are not able or ready to purchase a subscription, through the use of industry leading technology (Content ID, described later in this submission).
The elasticity built into the current legal framework on which our platform rests is not only foundational to YouTube’s contributions to the music industry and society at large, but also allows new market entrants to build their businesses and innovate without fear of undue legal liability.
So it’s a trade-off on listener privacy and low expectations of fair artist reward that drives the big platforms forward.
I’ve been battling this for ten years, often in co-ordination with Americans. It feels like independent musicians in Europe and the UK were very fearful of a fan backlash if they opposed free sharing, then streaming rates.
I debate on musician forums all the time, and the younger, less successful musicians still hold the tech industry view that exposure is key to success, exposure to the exclusion of fair pay sadly.
The tech industry launched a hugely successful propaganda campaign ten years ago with all kinds of nonsense about ‘sharing is caring’ and you should ‘make art for the love of it, earning a living was therefore vulgar’. As a result musicians work for peanuts, while Daniel Ek has become a multi-millionaire.
The major stars really let the rest of us down. And by and large most major stars have dropped the ball when it comets the pandemic too. In the UK, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Niall Horan (One Direction) have notably spoken up loudly and often about the devastation wrought by the cancellation of the live scene.
I have all fingers and toes crossed about this parliamentary enquiry. However, tech has been allowed to get so big it threatens politicians and politicians do feel threatened. If you remember a couple of years ago the European Community wanted to get tougher on copyright. ALL the major tech companies wrote to the public claiming it was an attack on their freedoms. Wiki-Pedia organised at least one dark day, where they closed down online activity in protest at the EU.
In Australia (as I write) the government have proposed social media companies pay towards journalistic content they share. Both Google and Facebook are threatening to leave the Australian internet if it happens. They are ruthless.
Thank you Chris, please keep up the fight and remember there are more joining every day. By putting our voices together and using those same media channels to shame the major platforms we can make steady progress. Perhaps we can show their complacent leaders the grave that lies before their companies if users, public and political sentiment and then their investors desert their highly-leveraged platforms. The harder they come, the harder they fall.
This site is the official community for Resonate, a streaming music cooperative owned by the people who use it -- artists, labels, listeners and builders.