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UK competition regulator says intervention unlikely to boost income of artists

Spotify&039s catalog of downloaded content gets a revamp

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has found that there are no interventions it could take to boost the incomes of artists releasing music onto streaming platforms like Spotify.

It did say that the government might be able to do something via a Departments for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee inquiry that’s looking into the economics of music streaming.

The CMA’s job is to ensure that there’s competition between music streaming companies, so customers get the best service and artists aren’t being deprived. The CMA said there is competition and that between 2009 and 2021, prices for music access have fallen by 20% and in some cases, music is free to listen to as it’s supported by ads. It said in the UK, there are 39 million people streaming music and 138 billion tracks played each year.

While consumers have a good deal, things are a lot less rosy for artists. The CMA found that 60% of streams were of music recorded by just 0.4% of artists. Additionally, the CMA found that musicians would earn around £12,000 from 12 million streams in the UK in 2021, but less than 1% of artists are hitting these streaming figures. Producers of chart-topping music will be raking in the money, while lesser known artists are probably making much smaller amounts.

“Streaming has transformed how music fans access vast catalogues of music, providing a valuable platform for artists to reach new listeners quickly, and at a price for consumers that has declined in real terms over the years,” Sarah Cardell, Interim CEO of the CMA, said on the matter. “However, we heard from many artists and songwriters across the UK about how they struggle to make a decent living from these services. These are understandable concerns, but our findings show that these are not the result of ineffective competition - and intervention by the CMA would not release more money into the system that would help artists or songwriters.”

It’s important to point out that while smaller artists may not be paid as much, the introduction of streaming services has led to an increase in the number of musicians and money from streaming is being shared out more widely. The CMA also found that there is a greater choice of deals with record labels available, which could help musicians.

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