A music manager coalition is demanding a number of changes to streaming royalties paid to artists – or the lack thereof.
The European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), an Estonia-based music manager coalition with over 1,400 worldwide members to its credit, recently unveiled the demands in a formal release. This multipage message begins by reiterating the increasingly important role that streaming is playing with concerts on hold due to COVID, as well as the $1 million per hour that it generates for the Big Three record labels.
“This should be a cause for celebration,” the music manager coalition states, though “the fact that streaming services are still licensed on the basis of the world as it was ten years ago – not the world as it is now – means too little of that $1m per hour is reaching those who create and perform the music that we love.”
While this overarching problem and its underlying causes required fixing prior to the pandemic, the ongoing economic difficulties facing musicians mean that “the need for change has become critical,” EMMA writes. “It must happen now.”
The organization, whose member managers represent “thousands” of European songwriters, musicians, producers, and DJs, then pinpoints four areas that it believes need action presently.
The first, “a new contract between artists and major music corporations,” encompasses several modifications to existing artist-label agreements, including an end to “practices whereby three major labels receive substantial, upfront, and unattributable payments as part of their licensing agreements.”
Next, EMMA takes aim at “black box” royalties, claiming that the multibillion-dollar tranche’s funds typically belong to the lowest-paid songwriters, but are often “reallocated by market share to the highest-earning” songwriters. “New incentives” must be rolled out to compel PROs to detail the exact amount of unpaid royalties that they possess and to lower the number of “unidentified and non-matching payments” via a “globally unified account system” used by all PROs.
Third, the music manager coalition expresses support for “new payment models for streaming.” These models would focus chiefly on a user-centric payment structure designed to “counter stream manipulation and fraud” by distributing royalties directly to individual creators, based upon fan interest as opposed to a share of total streams.
EMMA’s fourth and final suggestion concerns a coordinated, European Union-wide reopening effort for the “music and cultural industries” post-pandemic.
Towards the beginning of its release, EMMA notes that it is joining the “growing chorus for reform” in the streaming-royalties space. Building upon the point, the British government launched an investigation last month to determine “whether the business models used by major streaming platforms are fair to the writers and performers who provide the material.”