The BPI, the record labels’ association that promotes British music, said the surge in popularity of British music (including vinyl sales growing for the eighth consecutive year) is not being matched by proceeds from ad-funded streaming sites such as YouTube.
It said YouTube and similar online portals contributed a “meagre” £24.4 million to music industry revenue, despite an 88 per cent increase in music video streams to nearly 27 billion last year. That was eclipsed by the £25.1 million earned by labels from the sale of 2.1 million vinyl LPs in 2015.
Both represent relatively small parts of the industry revenues generated by both streaming and sales of recorded music. Total revenues generated by British music amounted to £688 million, a fall of 1 per cent on last year.
The BPI called on the government to fix the “value grab” by websites such as YouTube who, it said, paid lower royalties than subscription audio streaming services such as Spotify, which contributed a combined £146.1 million.
Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the BPI and the Brit awards, said: “It is hugely encouraging that demand for British music is so strong at home and abroad thanks to our brilliant artists and the continual innovation and investment of our record labels. Yet the fact that sales revenues dipped in a record year for British music shows clearly that something is fundamentally broken in the music market, so that artists and the labels that invest in them no longer benefit fairly from growing demand.
“Instead, dominant tech platforms like YouTube are able to abuse liability protections as royalty havens, dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists. The long-term consequences of this will be serious, reducing investment in new music, making it difficult for most artists to earn a living, and undermining the growth of more innovative services like Spotify and Apple Music that pay more fairly for the music they use,” he concluded.
A spokesperson for YouTube rebutted: “For years, the music industry lost millions of dollars as piracy rates soared. Thanks to our rights management system, Content ID, rightsholders have complete control of their music on YouTube and can easily decide whether to have content taken down, or profit from it.”
“Today, revenue from Content ID represents 50 per cent of what we pay out annually. In fact, ad-supported music streaming enables revenue from an audience that has never before paid for music. As more advertising money comes online, this will grow to match consumption. Comparisons to other audio-only, subscription music services are apples to oranges.”