Unlimited Media’s Chris Cooke calls it the great digital pie debate – the evolving story on dividing up rights as streaming platforms increasingly dominate the musical landscape. And this is increasingly provoking frustrated artists to take matters into their own hands.
In the latest in the saga on slicing and dicing digital rights, a German publisher has called for a 50 : 50 split in royalty payments between artists and labels. Cooke’s Complete Music Update sees this as an interesting development because “an alliance of trade groups representing publishers, composers and lyricists in Germany is now demanding for a repositioning of the way streaming royalties are split between the owners of the respective song and recording copyrights, both of which streaming services exploit.” German publishers are saying the current model is wrong, and are arguing that the share going to labels is disproportionately high for the work and risks involved.
Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the New York Times reports on an increasing role call of artists taking action to vent frustration at the impact all this is having on their earnings and careers. From the much publicised actions of Taylor Swift, to Talking Head’s David Byrne, Jay Z’s attempts to launch artist driven service Tidal, Bette Midler, Aloe Bacc and others are all taking action and speaking out at what they see as objectionable business practices in the music streaming industry. They quote jazz bassist Melvin Gibbs, President of the Content Creators Coalition: “None of these companies that are supposedly in the music business are actually in the music business,” Mr. Gibbs said. “They are in the data-aggregation business. They’re in the ad-selling business. The value of music means nothing to them.” And in Los Angeles a group of producers and musicians are raising funds to complete a documentary called Unsound “that reveals the dramatic collapse of the music industry and the unintended consequences the internet revolution is having on creators of all kinds.” See more at Unsound the movie.