Sir Paul McCartney among musicians calling on Boris Johnson to take action over streaming rights

Amy Johnson
·2-min read
Sir Paul McCartney performs live on stage at the O2 Arena during his 'Freshen Up' tour, on December 16, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
Sir Paul McCartney (Getty Images)

Sir Paul McCartney is one of over 150 musicians who have written to Boris Johnson to encourage actions over streaming rights. 

The former Beatles star has signed the letter, which has been backed by industry groups including the Musicians’ Union (MU), along with stars Kate Bush and Coldplay's Chris Martin. 

It asks the prime minister to update laws to “put the value of music back where it belongs – in the hands of music makers”.

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“Streaming is quickly replacing radio as our main means of music communication,” the letter reads.

“However, the law has not kept up with the pace of technological change and, as a result, performers and songwriters do not enjoy the same protections as they do in radio.

Chris Martin of Coldplay performs onstage at the 2020 iHeartRadio ALTer EGO at The Forum on January 18, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for iHeartMedia )
Coldplay's Chris Martin (FilmMagic for iHeartMedia )

“Today’s musicians receive very little income from their performances – most featured artists receive tiny fractions of a US cent per stream and session musicians receive nothing at all.”

According to the signatories, “only two words need to change in the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act” to “modernise the law so that today’s performers receive a share of revenues, just like they enjoy in radio”.

The letter also recommends “an immediate Government referral to the Competition and Markets Authority” because of “evidence of multinational corporations wielding extraordinary power” over the marketplace.

Other stars putting their name to it included Boy George, Lily Allen, Rebecca Ferguson, Bob Geldof and Jimmy Page.

Rebecca Ferguson performs live at Boisdale of Canary Wharf on January 7, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by Robin Little/Redferns)
Rebecca Ferguson (Redferns)

The coronavirus pandemic putting a temporary end to live performances had meant increased scrutiny on the streaming model and the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee launching an inquiry into its economics.

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Jo Stevens, shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “The current system is broken. It is designed for streaming companies to maximise their profits at the expense of musicians.

“It is significant that some of the UK’s most successful artists are joining calls for reform.

“Labour has long argued that musicians should benefit more from their work, so the Government must listen and take action.”

With additional reporting by PA.

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