House of Commons
Friday 3 December 2021
The House met at half-past Nine o’clock
The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3).
I beg to move, That the House sit in private.
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 163).
Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, Etc.) Bill
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, including some small earnings as a musician, and my membership of the Musicians’ Union and its financial support at election time. I also declare my membership of the Ivors Academy, which represents the interests of songwriters and composers.
Having taken an interest in the music industry over the 20 years that I have been in the House, including completing a fellowship with the Industry and Parliament Trust on the music industry, at one time or another I have probably crossed paths, and attended events, with almost every organisation that is interested in the Bill and its proposals. Some in the industry like to hide the wiring with bright lights and promises, but as policy makers we should want to get this right for our wonderful British creators, the bedrock of the music industry. Let me make clear from the outset that my interest is not to pursue a party political battle, but to work across the House, and across the sector, with anyone who is interested in achieving better remuneration for musicians, songwriters and composers in this new and exciting era of music streaming.
When I was first elected to the House, the music industry was encountering an existential crisis. The new digital technology of file sharing meant that, for the first time in history, it was possible to copy and share recorded music instantly, at zero cost, with no physical medium required. That led some to question whether it would ever again be possible for creators to earn money from their recorded music, and over the years it brought a steep decline in revenue to the music industry.
My right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Sir Greg Knight), who is in his place on the other side of the Chamber, my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) and I are occasionally together in a musical enterprise called MP4. All of us as a group, including our former colleague Ian Cawsey, argued strongly at the time—this was one of the reasons we put the group together, apart from to have fun—that it was vital for the UK economy and for creators that we supported the music industry in its efforts to protect, extend and enforce copyright, and to develop new technologies to allow for safe, legal and monetised consumption of music so that rights holders and creators could be paid. Across parties, we supported the preservation of intellectual property when some flirted with the anarchy of piracy.
Eventually, that new technology came along, first with legal downloading and then with streaming on services such as Spotify and Apple Music, which I know many right hon. and hon. Members are familiar with—so much so that that is now the dominant way in which people consume music across the world, and particularly here in the UK. It makes up more than 70% of UK recorded music revenues, generating hundreds of millions of pounds of new revenue for the UK music industry.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his Bill. Many people watching the debate may think it is purely about the household stars and that we are arguing over people who are already wealthy. Yesterday, however, I met a viola player who has played on 20,000 different records that are online but does not receive a single penny for those contributions. Is not my hon. Friend’s Bill not just for the household stars but for every single musician out there?
My hon. Friend is absolutely correct, and I will go on to explain why. It is interesting that orchestra players often receive nothing when their music is streamed. In fact, sometimes the only person who receives money is the only person who does not make any noise—namely the conductor of the orchestra. That is yet another irony of the system that we are discussing.
Let us be clear: streaming is an incredible technology. It enables us to have almost the entire catalogue of the world’s music in our pockets. To those of us who grew up in an analogue world, carrying around 12-inch vinyl copies of the latest David Bowie album under our arms, it is nothing short of miraculous that we can play music in this way. But artists and songwriters have not had the same boon from this new windfall as the major record companies.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his Bill. Does he agree that it is a scandal that artists are getting perhaps a quarter of what the big record labels are getting from streaming services? As my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins) said, we are not talking only about the stars, but about people such as music students looking for a career in music, as well as songwriters and performers. Many in my constituency, where the cost of living is extremely high, are getting no money and they have just had a terrible two years.
I will just make one further point and then I will give way to the right hon. Member.
I was saying that artists and songwriters had not had the same boon. I think Members across the House will be staggered to know that the chairman and chief executive officer of one of the three major corporations that dominate the market of recorded music is set to receive more income this year—£153 million, according to industry press reports—than every songwriter and composer in the UK combined, including the rich ones, will receive from the streaming of their music in this country. Such facts, and the desperate plight of musicians who, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter) was just saying, have been unable to perform live due to covid, have triggered close scrutiny of exactly what is going on with the economics of music streaming.
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his Bill and I am happy to support it. I hope that it gets Government support at some stage, if not necessarily today, because we should all see this as an important part of the levelling-up agenda. That agenda will never achieve the things that we want it to unless it addresses the imbalance of power between big corporates on the one hand and the individual and the small business on the other. That is at the heart of his Bill, and it is why all those who purport to support levelling up should support it today.
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the Bill. Does he share the concerns of some that, although the Bill might increase the income of some artists, there is a real danger that other artists in the sector might see their income fall and that that might affect investment?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention; I know that a series of points have been made about the Bill, and I will come on to that point later.
My Bill largely endeavours to bring into law measures that were proposed in a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report from earlier this year. I pass on to the House the apologies of the Chair of the Committee, the hon. Member for Solihull (Julian Knight), who cannot come here today because he has a constituency emergency. The report, titled “Economics of music streaming”, was unanimously agreed, cross-party, after many months of hearings with witnesses from all parts of the music industry and after hundreds of written submissions on the subject were received. I think it is fair to say that my fellow Committee members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott), who is sitting close by me today, were staggered—perhaps those who had not been particularly attentive to music industry issues—by some evidence that they heard and by the seeming unwillingness of those at the top of the music industry to acknowledge the problems that we uncovered, and to act to put them right and rebalance the music industry to support creatives.
I welcome the fact that one of the three majors, Sony, did at least agree to pay unrecouped artists with pre-2000 contracts some money when their music is streamed. Sadly, the other big two, Warner and Universal, have not followed suit, and in the latter case, a public share offering has been issued that will result in the extraordinary £153 million pay-out to the company’s boss, at a time when many artists have been struggling to pay their rent, as we heard in evidence.
I want to outline for the House the main measures in my Bill. It extends the existing Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to modernise the law for the new world of music streaming. One of the features of streaming technology, which I am sure hon. Members are familiar with, is that when someone plays a piece of music on a streaming service, it is not quite the same as the action of choosing to play a record, but neither is it quite the same as listening passively to music on the radio. How this is treated in law is crucial, because it affects how much artists and songwriters get paid.
When we stream music, sometimes we choose what we want to listen to or sometimes an algorithm chooses it for us based on the things that it thinks we might enjoy. Frequently, we might start playing something of our choice and the service will continue to play music to us that it chooses, which, in some ways, makes it more like a radio station. To emphasise that point, I note that there is even a feature called “Radio” on the platform Spotify, as hon. Members may know. During the course of our Select Committee inquiry, we learned that music listening is gradually moving from traditional broadcasting towards streaming. It has been reported from a speech by a Spotify executive that its corporate aim is gradually to replace radio as the main way that people listen to music.
Under existing UK copyright law, when music is played on the radio, artists are entitled to an unwaivable payment called equitable remuneration, which is an important part of the way musicians can earn income from recorded music, on top of any session fees and on top of the terms of any recording contract. If radio listening declines in favour of streaming, as Spotify predicts and as is happening, clearly musicians will lose income from equitable remuneration as that trend develops. Record labels argue, however, that streaming music is the equivalent of the sale of a record; the jargon in law is “making available”. They therefore say that musicians should be paid on the basis of recording contracts, many of which were signed in relation to the production and distribution of physical records before the technology of streaming was even invented.
As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, I worked in commercial radio for more than 20 years and spent much of my time negotiating with record labels as part of a working group. I think that UK musicians are being devalued, and I do not think that there are fair earnings, but I think that ad-funded streaming services are not paying fairly for the music that drives them. That is the issue that we really should tackle.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his well-informed intervention. He is right that there is an issue with ad-funded streaming services and the rates that they pay. The Committee concluded that the fix that I am proposing today was the best way to build on existing UK law to rectify the matter, but there is an issue with how much streaming services pay and with how much they are paid by record companies: about 30%, after the Chancellor has his bit, of the cut from the subscription we pay and the ad revenues. It is a valid point, but the Committee concluded unanimously across the parties that this is the best way forward.
My Bill, as recommended by the Select Committee, would provide performers on a recording with a right to an unwaivable payment or equitable remuneration when their music is streamed, akin to the existing right in radio and broadcast. Importantly, it would not take away the right of labels to value their exclusive rights, which would remain intact. Nor would it dictate what the value of any remuneration should be; that is best settled, as it is now, by agreement between the parties. However, it would make it clear that the payment is an additional payment and could be referred to the existing copyright tribunal where there is a difference of opinion.
I thank the hon. Member for this important debate. In what way would these proposals help in the situation in which Dame Vera Lynn found herself? She was one of the most loved entertainers and icons in the country, yet when there was a revival of some of her most famous and beloved songs, she did not receive royalties under her contract, which had been conceived and signed before the internet had even been considered and built. I would be grateful if we explored that point.
The hon. Lady makes a powerful and pertinent point. She is absolutely right: wonderful British artists such as Dame Vera Lynn who recorded music in an era when—let’s face it—some record contracts were not exactly favourable towards the artist are still held to their terms by record labels. Sometimes they are unrecouped, which means that the record label has decided that it does not owe the artist anything at all because of the original advance that it made on the record. The point is that labels no longer have to manufacture or distribute records, there is no longer a percentage getting broken on the way to the record shop—all those costs are gone. They still have Dame Vera Lynn’s recordings, put them out there and make money from them, but under the terms of their legacy contract, they do not have to pay a penny. I will come on to explain how my Bill would take care of the very issue that the hon. Lady rightly raises.
The second major provision in the Bill—the first dealt with equitable remuneration—would place a transparency obligation on those who have had rights transferred or licensed to them, requiring them to supply timely and comprehensive information to the songwriter, composer or artist about where and how their music is being played, so that they can be sure that they are being paid what they are due. The Select Committee recommended this after hearing evidence that it is often very difficult for artists and songwriters to gain any clarity or to audit their works. We heard of money that should have been paid disappearing into what are known in the industry as “black boxes”. It is clear that songwriters suffer particularly because of poor data standards.
On the subject of the value of streaming to songwriters, the Committee expressed concern about how the big three record labels, which I mentioned earlier and which wield huge market power, own large parts of the music publishing business too, and how that might influence the way in which revenue from streaming is distributed. If the big three make more profit from their rights in the recording than they do from their rights in the publishing, there is a disincentive for them to pay songwriters a competitive share of streaming revenue. The publishing right ought to be competing for more value against the recording, but it appears to be stifled by the problem of ownership.
At this point, I want to praise the Government for noting the concerns expressed in our Committee’s report about the impact of monopoly power and cross-ownership in the music industry, and for referring the matter to the Competition and Markets Authority for a study of potential market failure. They deserve due credit for doing that. Let me say to the Minister that whatever the outcome of today’s debate, reform is needed. I hope that he and the Government will continue to “lean into” this issue and press the big three record labels to come to the table, acknowledge the issue and offer solutions, rather than remaining—as they occasionally seem to be—in denial. Perhaps he will say something about that when he responds to the debate.
The third major provision in the Bill would allow for contract adjustment when someone, often at the beginning of their career—we all know constituents like that, desperate for a chance to have their music heard—enters into an agreement which eventually results in a payment to them that is disproportionately low in comparison with subsequent revenues derived from the exploitation of their music. This right would strengthen the position of the weaker party entering into such an agreement, and it would encourage rights holders to ensure that agreements were fair and equitable in the first place, as ultimately the songwriter or performer would be able to appeal to the copyright tribunal to adjudicate on that contract.
The fourth and final provision would give UK songwriters and artists a right that is available in other jurisdictions, including the United States, but not in the United Kingdom. If after 20 years they are dissatisfied with the efforts being made by record labels or publishers—and I am glad to say that this would apply to Dame Vera Lynn, were she still with us—musicians could give notice of their intention to reclaim their rights to exploit their music, or transfer that right to another label or publisher that might do a better job than the existing one.
The importance of this proposal was highlighted very recently in the case of the UK recording artist Four Tet. Dissatisfied with the amount of money he was getting via his record label from streaming, he engaged lawyers to challenge his contract. The response of his label has been to remove his music altogether from streaming services, effectively a restraint of trade for that artist. His recording contract predated streaming. Under the provisions of my Bill, he could give notice that he intended to reclaim his music. This would incentivise labels to do better deals with artists—and, in fairness, many independent labels do have better deals with artists nowadays, often taking rights for 15 years rather than the lifetime of copyright, as has been the tradition.
Let me now anticipate some of the concerns that Members may have. I welcome their interest in today’s debate, but if they have been following the debate outside the House, they will know that a number of issues have been raised. It has been said, for instance, that the UK music industry creates a great many jobs as well as growth and exports, and is an important part of the UK’s soft power abroad. Why, then, should we rush to introduce legislation that could affect that world-leading status? I remind hon. Members that one in 10 streams originates in the UK, but only around a twentieth of streaming income comes back to the UK. Far from undermining our position, my Bill seeks to bring much of that lost income back into the hands of working British professionals.
This is an evidence-based reform. I know some in the music industry say we need more evidence—I am all for evidence—but it would have been helpful if the record labels and the British Phonographic Industry, after two requests from the previous Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, had supplied the evidence that the Intellectual Property Office asked for and had volunteered some data on their royalty distributions. Why, even after the Secretary of State twice told our Committee they should do that, did they not provide the evidence? If they are going to say we need evidence-based reform, they need to supply the evidence.
Members may have seen a recent piece from the former chief executive of EMI UK suggesting that measures in the Bill, although well intentioned, could undermine the recovery of the UK’s music sector following the impact of the pandemic. That is a slight fallacy, because in fact the pandemic has had no overall effect on the recording industry. Streaming revenue actually grew by 20% in 2020. The sad fact is that EMI is no longer a British-owned company, much to my and others’ regret. Inexplicably, the chief executive appears to be conflating the recording business with the live business, which has been decimated by covid and emphasises even more why musicians need to be paid for their recorded music.
Some hon. Members will have seen the concern expressed about independent record labels, which may invest the most in new and emerging musical talent. Would my Bill reduce the amount of funding that smaller labels have available for supporting fledgling artists? The chief executive of the Association of Independent Music made a speech to the European Union five years ago calling for these exact measures to be implemented across Europe—that person was representing artists at the time. It is interesting that someone says there is not enough evidence, yet five years ago they were calling for the very measures I am calling for today. Plenty of evidence has accumulated in the meantime.
It is important to say that equitable remuneration can be applied in such a way as to take account of smaller independent labels that already have ethical business practices. Of course, in practice, they can and should operate in that way by agreement.
Colleagues will also have been told there is no general consensus in the music industry on what the impact of introducing equitable remuneration for streaming would be, and the argument goes that the Government are therefore right to undertake an extensive programme of research with all parts of the industry. I make it clear that I welcome the fact the Government are committed to undertaking this work, but I call on the record labels to collaborate and co-operate fully and to provide the information required for the Government to get a grip on the details. That does not preclude allowing the Bill its Second Reading and allowing it to go into Committee and the subsequent parliamentary stages, which will take a long time in any case, where the research can inform amendments and the Bill’s passage. The Government ultimately have control of the timetable.
Some have suggested that reintroducing equitable remuneration might have the unintended consequence of some independent artists receiving less money from streaming because session musicians would be entitled to be paid. In fact, fully independent music accounts for a very small proportion, probably 6%, of the total market, and fully independent artists who experience success are the ones making the most from streaming. The administration of ER may be cheaper to such artists than their current distribution deals. In any case, it is likely that any impact would be marginal, and it would be entirely possible to adapt the proposal to meet any concerns that arise.
Another concern that has been mentioned is that equitable remuneration could see record companies offer worse contracts, reduce advance payments to new talent or disinvest in the UK to make up for the loss of revenue from streaming. The Committee heard that advance payments ultimately keep artists in debt for a long time, so perhaps a cooling effect on the size of advances would not be a bad thing. As for companies, which are sometimes making 20% profit margins in the streaming era, with none of the costs associated with distribution or manufacturing, saying that they will pass any cut to that margin on to their own artists, that is surely the strongest possible argument that there is something very wrong with competition in this market. Anyone who believes in competition in this market should note that approach.
It has also been said that multinational record labels might decrease their investment in the UK if the streaming market became less competitive, but actually these changes will make the UK market much, much more competitive. The music industry is characterised best currently as an oligopoly—that is clear to all. One company may control as much as 40% of the market. Giving artists more control over their rights and letting those rights change hands more freely will hugely open up the market to smaller independent labels and artists. When changes were made in 2003 to copyright in relation to film, similar points were made, but we have seen the burgeoning expansion of the British film industry since that point, and I want the same for music.
Ownership of copyright, as with publishing a book and so on, does extend in the case of composers and songwriters beyond the 75 years after death, so it does apply to their estate. In the case of recording artists, it applies for 70 years after the date of the recording. It was extended by 20 years in an initiative that my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire supported in the mid-2000s, and that is why it is 70 years rather than 50 years.
I am immensely proud of the contribution that British musicians and songwriters have made to the culture and economy of the UK. Anyone who has watched the recent clip of The Beatles documentary where, out of the void, Paul McCartney conjures into being the classic song “Get Back” after only a couple of minutes can only be stunned by the sheer genius and sweet mystery of musical creation. That tradition of great British artists, musicians and songwriters continues to this day, but it is threatened if we do not adapt our legal structures to ensure that artists, composers and songwriters are properly paid when their music is played, in whatever format develops. Some with vested interests to protect would almost have us believe that this well-researched proposal, based on a groundbreaking parliamentary Select Committee report, agreed unanimously on a cross-party basis, would lead to some sort of anarchy in the UK music industry. There is an element of hyperbole and panic in their response. Much as I love that seminal British punk record of rebellion, this Bill is not about anarchy in the UK; it is about equity in the UK music industry, and I ask the House to support its Second Reading so that we get on and scrutinise it in the detail that such a serious proposal deserves.
Let me start by congratulating the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) on introducing the Bill, which raises serious issues. Every time we speak in the Chamber, he points out that we do not just share a birthday but we were actually born on the same day.
It is a challenge I happily accept. As a result, we probably have similar tastes in music, although not identical. We grew up during the same era. Where we do agree is that we both share a love of music —it is tremendously important to me. It is also tremendously important to this country; we are exceptionally good at it and have been for many years. The music industry’s importance to the UK economy is frequently cited—as the Select Committee points out, it contributes more than £5 billion in gross value added—and we are the second biggest exporter of music in the world, which does an enormous amount in terms of global Britain and the projection of our soft power. The music industry is a huge success story.
The UK’s exports have great potential, but it is worth my flagging the fact that the UK’s music share is beginning to decline: in 2015, we took 17%, but that has now fallen to 10%. That is because of the growth of new markets—in particular, Latin America and the developing economies—and the advent of things such as K-pop. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is a fan of K-pop; I have to say that it slightly passes me by, but I recognise that it is extremely popular.
The hon. Gentleman and I have followed the music industry for many years. He declared his interest as a performer and songwriter—indeed, I have heard him play many times—and I should declare that my son works in the music industry for Columbia Records, which is part of Sony Music. I have learned a great deal about the economics of the music industry from him, but my love of music and involvement in the industry pre-date his birth by quite a number of years.
The hon. Gentleman talked about when he first got involved in music industry issues; I go back rather further: my first involvement was 35 years ago when I supported the music industry campaign for the introduction of a blank-tape levy. I fear that some in the Chamber may not even know what a blank tape is, let alone a levy on one. It dated back to the years when—this is guilty admission time—one could sit with a cassette tape recorder waiting for a song to come up on the top 20 and then record it. That was piracy and a breach of copyright and was to be condemned. When I learned more, I recognised that it was not to be encouraged and that there should be a levy. Some in the industry still advocate a levy, albeit not on blank tapes but on devices such as iPods or smartphones.
Blank tapes were an early example of the threat to the music industry from piracy, which of course increased dramatically with the advent of the internet. The hon. Gentleman talked a little about the threat that emerged from illegal downloading and, in particular, peer-to-peer file sharing and the growth of companies such as Pirate Bay and technology such as LimeWire.
I recall, when I was its Chair—a little while ago now—taking the Select Committee to see Lucian Grainge, about whom I want to say a word because, although the hon. Gentleman did not name him, he referred to him. Lucian Grainge is the chief executive of Universal Music and is going to bank a huge amount of money this year because Universal Music has just conducted a very successful initial public offering and sold a 10% share. As chief executive, he is going to profit from that and we should celebrate that: Lucian Grainge is a British music industry executive who has built Universal Music into the most successful company in the world. As a Conservative—somebody who can celebrate that success—and a British citizen, I am delighted that he is going to do so well, but the whole company will do well, too. It is a remarkable success story, because when we went to see him back in 2008-09, he told us that he was seriously concerned that the industry itself was going to die, such was the extent of the threat to the industry at that time as a result of piracy. Beginning in the early 2000s, there was a 15-year decline in music industry revenue that was directly attributable to piracy.
The right hon. Gentleman mentions Lucian Grainge; he may be aware that were an artist in Britain to produce a song and get 1 million streams, they would receive around £100, so to receive the £153 million that Lucian Grainge gets, that artist would need 1.5 million million streams. While Lucian Grainge may be a great corporate man, making £3 million a week, he has never produced any music that we would ever want to listen to. Surely the right hon. Member cannot justify that level of greed when there is poverty in the spring of our creativity across this land.
When, about 15 years ago, I attended the Music Industry Trusts Award dinner where Lucian Grainge was honoured, I heard from the artists whom he had spotted and signed up. In particular, I remember Take That, who said they became as successful as they did due to Lucian Grainge’s support. Yes, he does not necessarily play an instrument—he may do so in a not particularly professional way, although I may be doing him an injustice there—but he is an extraordinary talent in the industry. He does what labels are there to do: he goes out and finds talent, invests in it, builds it up and makes it into the global stars whom we celebrate.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Lucian Grainge is an extremely talented music industry executive, but would he be anywhere near as successful without many of the artists out there now who, having been locked down in their houses for almost two years, unable to make any money through live gigs, are living on poverty wages and getting barely anything from streaming revenue?
Of course, we depend on the talent in this country. Some of our most globally successful artists—people such as Adele and Ed Sheeran—come from the UK, and I must say that they do extremely well. Part of my criticism of the measures proposed in the Bill is that they will result in those artists who get streamed most doing a bit better, but those artists who do not get that many streams will not get much more money. One million streams sounds like an awful lot, but, in comparison to CD sales, it is not very much in terms of revenue generated for rights holders from digital service providers. I will come to that in detail.
The hon. Member for Foyle (Colum Eastwood) is right that, in a sense, what kept the industry going while revenues from legal sales or downloads were declining was live performances. Live performances became another major source of revenue for many bands—and it still is. Some bands do not receive many music streams but do well from live performances because they have loyal fan bases who follow them around. We must take account of musicians’ numerous sources of earnings. One of them is live; others are merchandise sales, synchronisation rights and, of course, sales of physical products and streaming. That is brought out strongly in the Intellectual Property Office’s survey of earnings in the creative industries.
On that point, who wrote a song is important to where the remuneration goes—it is not just about who is performing it live or not. The Bill provides a benefit in that, but for bands who we traditionally think of as performers, we must look at who wrote the music. Original writers and songwriters, as well as those who create original soundtracks for motion pictures, keep all the content and it is much easier for them to transfer their earnings and gains from their musical production. However, there is a difference between collectively packaged items and those that are not.
I completely agree with my hon. Friend. Composers, some of whom may not have their works performed live, are the foundation stone of the industry. I had dinner about three weeks ago with somebody who has probably never been heard of in this Chamber, Terry Devine-King, who is a composer, but writes for television and film productions and advertisements. He receives a good income from doing so. I absolutely recognise the importance of composers.
I take the right hon. Gentleman’s point about Take That. I do not seek to personalise these issues too strongly, but is he aware that Gary Barlow was one of the more than 200 artists who signed the letter presented to the Prime Minister in support of my proposals?
I suspect quite a lot of artists whom I enjoy and admire may have signed the letter to the Prime Minister, but that does not mean I necessarily think they are right. Some artists are extremely knowledgeable about the economics of the industry, but it is horribly complicated, as I think everybody who has looked at it or sought to participate in this debate will recognise.
Before I move on to the measures in the hon. Gentleman’s Bill, as a former Minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, I must put on record that I am proud of the Government’s efforts to sustain the industry, particularly when live performance became completely impossible as a result of lockdown. The fact that the Government were able to find £2 billion for the cultural recovery fund and bring in schemes such as the live events reinsurance scheme has kept the industry going.
One thing we can celebrate is that live is now back, and for those of us who enjoy music it is now possible to go and listen again. Last Saturday I was at the Witham Public Hall listening to Bootleg Blondie, which I thoroughly recommend to anybody who is of my generation and remembers with great affection Debbie Harry—who is still performing today, I think, and is about to go on tour. I also went to the Chelmsford Hot Box, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford), and listened to two live bands: one a Scottish rock band called Helicon, with a sitar player, and the second a Mexican rock band. The owners of that venue said to me that they could not possibly still be in operation had it not been for the cultural recovery fund, so I take this opportunity to point out that the Government did keep that industry going.
Of course, the thing that has been the saviour of the industry and has reversed Lucian Grainge’s dire prediction is streaming. Where I disagree with the hon. Member for Cardiff West is that he said streaming was taking over from radio. It is not; radio is doing pretty well at the moment and there is very little evidence that it is in decline. I have been talking to Global about that in the past 24 hours. Where streaming is taking over, it is taking over from physical product or downloading. The revenue from sales of CDs or downloading is in steady decline and people now rely more and more on streaming.
The hon. Gentleman also talked about the way in which radio distributes money to performers, artists and composers. That is done through PPL. It is worth noting that in America, artists who get played on the radio do not get any money at all, so there is a specific way that money is distributed as a result of radio plays in this country that is different from streaming, but if we look in some other countries there is no money at all.
As I said, the revenue to musicians comes from a large number of different sources, and streaming is only one. However, it is noteworthy that in the past few years, the share of money from streaming that goes to artists has gone up. Streaming has increased steadily, but between 2016 and 2019—figures that come from the International Property Office’s survey of creative industries’ earnings—artists’ remuneration has gone up by 46%, whereas revenue to the labels has only gone up by 31%. Artists are taking a bigger share of the revenue from streaming services than they were previously, and that is borne out by the IPO survey.
I question what the hon. Gentleman said about the failure of the industry to engage with the IPO; it is not the case. If he looks at the final report he will see that it recognises that, after an initial disagreement about the scope of the survey and one or two other points, the industry provided a lot of data. There is an improvement, but it could go further and I sympathise with one or two points that the hon. Member for Cardiff West made. However, it is not as if artists are suddenly being deprived of revenue as a result of the move to streaming. I shall comment specifically on some of the hon. Gentleman’s proposals and particularly on equitable remuneration.
Equitable remuneration is in the eye of the beholder. Who decides what is equitable remuneration? One answer proposed by the hon. Gentleman is the copyright tribunal. Spain has a system of equitable remuneration, which takes away money not from the rights holders but from the platforms, to give to the artists. There is an argument, which I shall come on to, that the platforms get and keep an unjustifiably high proportion of revenue. However, in the Spanish system, about 23% of the revenue goes on administrative costs.
The principal problem is the idea that labels make huge profits at the expense of artists. That ignores what labels do. I remember from the early days of the industry—before the time that the hon. Gentleman talked about—another campaign mounted by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, whose then Chair, Gerald Kaufman, was the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton. The Committee pointed out that CDs cost tuppence-ha’penny to produce, and therefore it cost virtually nothing to make millions of them, and yet they were sold for a vast amount—£10 or more. What that ignored—and the same applies to streaming today—was the vast number of artists that labels supported on the basis that they could be tomorrow’s Ed Sheeran or Adele. In the vast majority of cases, sadly, they are not, but the only way we can find the stars of tomorrow is to invest in a huge number of artists, in the knowledge that we will find a jewel among them.
When labels invest in artists they expect to lose money in most cases. That is just the way in which the economics of the industry work. About 40% of that revenue goes into marketing and A&R, which identifies artists and finds them. On marketing, people say, “Who needs labels any more because you can put music up on Spotify or YouTube, and you can promote it yourself on social media?” I do not think you would find a single successful artist who would agree with that.
At the moment, there are 60 million tracks on Spotify, and 60,000 tracks are uploaded every day. Among those there may well be real talent and stars, but finding them in that noise is almost impossible. Where a label comes in is with its A&R people, who go out and listen to bands and performers, and find unrecognised talent, which they sign and put together with session musicians, orchestras and song writers, and then market it. That requires not just negotiation with radio stations but expertise in promoting records. One of the biggest places to promote music is TikTok, and a huge amount of effort goes into trying to elevate artists on social media. All of that is where the expertise of labels comes in. They have an important function.
During our debate, attention has been given to the three major global labels—Universal, Sony and Warner. However, 26% of the market for releases is now held by the small independent sector. I have to say to the hon. Member for Cardiff West that I have spoken to a number of independent labels and they are all really concerned about the provisions in his Bill. Just to give three examples from many, Dirty Harp, Good Soldier and Cherry Red have all come forward and said that it will prevent them from finding new British artists and investing in them.
The irony is that the way in which the music industry has developed recently means that some of the most popular artists who are now being found and signed and whose music is beginning to be promoted are the young grime artists from the council estates—from very disadvantaged backgrounds. My fear is that if we take the money away from the labels to give to established, successful artists, we are depriving the future stars of the investment on which they depend. That is one of the real concerns about the effect of what the hon. Gentleman proposes.
The next thing I want to look at is contract adjustment. Yes, sometimes contracts do need to be revisited, and that is something that labels do a great deal of the time. However, the interjection of the copyright tribunal will create huge uncertainty, which will be exacerbated by the proposal for contract revocation after 20 years. Twenty years may sound like a long time, but it is not very long. If a label that is signing an artist and making an initial investment of tens of millions of pounds has the knowledge that they and the artist have reached a contractual agreement that will extend and that will allow that money to be recouped over a lengthy period, that does give certainty. If, after 20 years, the artist can just say, “Well, actually, we’ve decided that we are doing really well, so we want to tear up our contract because we don’t think it’s fair any longer,” that introduces a degree of uncertainty.
I would also say to my hon. Friends that it is profoundly un-Conservative for the Government to step in and say of a contract reached between two willing parties, “Sorry, we are going to completely legally give you the right to tear it up, even though you have committed yourselves to it.”
On the issue of copyright and content, I agree with both points that have been made. However, in the nuanced sense, the issue is that the copyright can be adjusted or transferred over to the artist, where they have a pre-existing record label, so that online content, such as that streamed on YouTube, TikTok and Insta, can be made available. An artist now, in the modern day, has the ability to create a direct link between content being shared and direct remuneration, and that is separate from the labels. However, oftentimes, if artists are already linked into a contract, they cannot use that third mechanism, so it would be—
In defence of my hon. Friend, this is, as she was illustrating, an incredibly complicated area in which there are many different types of contractual agreement between the label and the artist. Again, the hon. Gentleman’s Bill does not necessarily reflect the number of different permutations that now exist. For instance, some artists want to take a lot of money up front and almost sign away their rights to future income streams from royalty payments. In some cases, that is because they are elderly; I do not want to pick out any particularly artists, but ones who are perhaps of a certain age or above might not think that enjoying the revenue from future streaming will last them very long, so they would rather take a substantial advance payment and give over the future royalty payments.
Of course I completely accept that, in the vast majority of cases, contract law should stand. If two people have entered into a contract, that is their business, and it is for nobody else. However, we have repeatedly, in lots of other industries, decided that there are occasions when exploitative contracts have been entered into, because there is not an equality of arms between both sides. For instance, in financial services, we legislated a few years ago to strike down a whole series of mortgages that people entered into, because they were not entered into on a fair basis. My anxiety is that the world at the moment is really stacked against lots of artists. We repeatedly seem to expect that their music should be free, and that seems unfair.
Oh, goodness, there were a number of points there. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for recognising that we should be very wary about stepping in to interfere with voluntarily agreed contracts. Yes, if there is evidence of exploitation and abuse of a dominant position, that may be a circumstance where we should. Actually, that is one of the areas where I think the hon. Member for Cardiff West has done us a service in allowing us to look at this issue. Action does need to be taken, and I know that my hon. Friend the Minister, in his response, will talk about what the Government are doing to address some of these concerns.
Before I finish, I want to continue to talk about what the hon. Member for Cardiff West is proposing. I have talked about the revocation and adjustment of contracts, and he is also keen for greater transparency. I think the labels are doing quite a lot to release information and make sure their artists can see the way in which the economics is working and how they are being remunerated. However, the hon. Gentleman is going further even than many of the provisions advanced by the European Union. Some of the information he wants is simply not available and, for instance, the involvement of the tribunal in all these cases would lead to a huge increase in administrative costs.
I pay tribute to some of the more far-sighted labels that are already addressing some of the concerns; they are not all doing so. The Select Committee, in its report, particularly talked about the initiative by Sony. It is by Sony; I do not say this just because my son happens to work for Sony. It has brought in a programme called Artists Forward in which it has essentially written off unrecouped balances for artists signed before the year 2000. That has been followed by some of the smaller labels, and the Select Committee rightly paid tribute to Sony and called on the other major labels to follow suit, which I think would be a good thing.
I do think that, even though the labels are not perhaps the villains of the piece that some have suggested, they could do more to try to ensure that there is fairer distribution and that their artists receive more money. In that respect, I think the Government response to the Select Committee report was right in saying that we need both to have working parties to bring together the Government, the IPO and representatives of the industry to look at these initiatives, and at the same time to invite in the CMA to carry out a market study. I am unhappy about what the hon. Gentleman is proposing, but even if I was not, I think I would say that it is premature to start legislating when that work is ongoing and we do not know what the outcome is going to be. It is sensible that we wait for that work, which is taking place now, before we reach any final conclusions.
On the point about markets, I was reflecting on the comments my right hon. Friend made about this being a statutory measure to allow a review of contracts. Is there a danger that that could create a market distortion that would actually diminish the number of new contracts being set up, because the music industry would see, in 20 years’ time, artists who are successful going to a different provider?
My hon. Friend is entirely right, and the labels are very anxious about that. When they reach agreement with an artist at the moment, they have, written in a legally binding contract, a certainty that would be removed if we suddenly gave the right to one party to say that, after a certain period, they could essentially just tear up the contract. It would create uncertainty, which is bound to be a disincentive to signing new artists, so I think my hon. Friend is absolutely right.
Where I think there is more work to be done, and I hope the CMA market study may bring this out, is in an area that is not covered in the hon. Gentleman’s Bill, which is the power of the digital service providers. They are very dominant, and the industry has been complaining for a long time about what it terms the value gap, which is the amount of money retained by the platforms and not given over to the industry. I have to say that YouTube is a particular offender in this. It takes advantage of this thing called safe harbour under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and as a result gives over to the rights holders only a fraction of the revenue it receives, particularly compared with Spotify, which has a better record in this area.
Surely the greatest distortion in the market is the fact that artists are not getting a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. This is fundamentally about fairness, and the Bill will help break down monopolies. One such artist is Tim Burgess, who has been very supportive of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan). My hon. Friend is on his listening party on 15 December, if I remember rightly, so tune in!
I just say to the hon. Gentleman, as I said earlier, that the revenue share going to artists has gone up, not down. I do not think it is as immediately obvious as he says that they are being deprived unfairly of income. This is an incredibly complicated area, as I think everybody will recognise. Before we reach any conclusions, let us have the CMA carry out a proper market study, let us have the working groups and conduct the discussions, and then we will see the evidence. However, if the hon. Gentleman looks at the report produced by the IPO on earnings in the creative industries, I do not think he will find evidence to support what he has said.
There are still issues to be addressed. I welcome the initiative of the hon. Member for Cardiff West in bringing the Bill forward and allowing us to debate the matter. I am pleased that the Government have taken on board the fact that concern exists and want to find out more detail about the economics of the industry and the facts. I look forward to that, but the measures that the hon. Gentleman has brought forward would not benefit the industry, and they might well result in some of the future stars we are going to rely on if we are to sustain the enormous success of our industry not being found, because the labels will be deprived of the money that they need to invest to find those artists of the future.
I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
It is a pleasure, as always, to follow the right hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale). We have been together in so many of the various torturous debates about copyright reform, and I think we all still bear the scars of the Digital Economy Act 2017. I just hope that the record labels that have written to us so assiduously in the past few weeks sometimes remember what we did for them when the dark times started to descend on the sector and the industry in the early 2000s. Members such as the right hon. Gentleman, my friend the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) and several others across the House stood up for the music industry, made sure it was put back on a proper basis and created the political conditions for the industry to rise again out of the mess of digitisation. I just hope that is reflected and remembered in the course of this debate.
It is a pleasure to speak in the debate, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West on this excellent Bill. I have been waiting 20 years to see a Bill like this; it is great that we are now considering it. I have been a bandmate of the hon. Gentleman’s for about 20 years in MP4, the world’s only parliamentary rock band. Where he may be short in stature, he is mighty in musicality. If conditions had been just that little bit different years ago, when he was starting out rehearsing and starting to play the guitar, he could have been one of these featured artists earning so much money from being a successful recording artist. I recommend that colleagues listen to his solo album, “The Clown & The Cigarette Girl”, to hear the quality of his song writing. Lots of people ask, “What does this musical moonlighting mean for the future of MP4?” Well, we are the only rock band in the world that can sustain political differences as well as musical differences, so I think we can maybe just put up with a bit of musical moonlighting. The hon. Gentleman is Kevin Brennan, not Robbie Williams, so I think we will get by.
I am going to do something very unusual in the context of the past few weeks—something that on “Yes, Minister” might have been called “brave” or “courageous”. I want to talk about my “second job”, as several of my friends in the press have portrayed and described it. It is a second job that I have not done for 20 years, that I never spend any hours on, and that I cannot stop: because I am a former featured recording artist, I still receive royalties for my recorded works. After 20 years, I have to say that they have very much diminished, and with the onset of digitisation and streaming they have gone right down, but hey—they supplement the MP’s wage and I am grateful for them. I think I deserve them; I spent hours, months and years putting together those albums and that product, and I think it is right that they retain that value. They have to have intrinsic value.
That is what this is all about: the value of the imagination and the creative process, the virtue of the songwriting, the craft that goes into engineering and designing these wonderful products that are a narrative of our human experience and reflect our emotions. Where would we be without the songs? Where would we be without the songwriters? How would we enjoy our day-to-day life and activity without songs in our head, songs to enjoy, songs to listen to? If there is one thing this House can do, it is make sure that the people who produce and design these wonderful pieces of art should get proper remuneration and proper reward. If we can do anything in this House, surely we must reward our artists.
We are lucky in this country: we are particularly good at this. The UK dominates the world creative and artistic scene. It does not matter whether it is television, film or music—we are at the top. That is because we are very, very good at it, but we also have the political conditions to allow it. Copyright is a brilliant thing. It is about intellectual property—it is about making sure that that right is accepted and known. We have to make sure that we continue to adapt and develop the political infrastructure that lets talent and creativity thrive, develop, mature and express itself. That is one thing that we can do in this House. I really hope that we will look at the Bill today, see what we can do for our artists, and support it.
I signed a record contract. I was signed to two major record companies: I signed to Chrysalis Records in 1987, and it was taken over by EMI in the early 1990s. We did quite well during that period: we sold 1.5 million records, we had modest success in the UK with two top-five albums, and we had a couple of top-five albums in Scandinavia and Germany. I never earned a penny from any of my recordings. After selling all those records, I never received a penny. That is because as a contracted artist who had our rights given to one of the major record companies, we remain unrecouped, which means that we never repaid the investment from our record company. When the record company tired of us trying to secure that breakthrough and dropped us, we were dropped unrecouped, which meant that we no longer had a record contract and still owed money to the record label. We sold 1.5 million records!
Those were the good times: 1987 was the start of the CD revolution, when sales went through the roof and record companies lived in almost fantastic, egregious excess. They were amazing times, but even then we could not make money from records—never mind today, when streaming has come in and there are no longer physical sales. To give a sense and a feel of what this is all about, I remember when we were signed: we came into Heathrow airport and there was a battalion of limousines to drive us into the plush, swanky offices in Oxford Street. It was not that bad.
That was what it was like, and it is not much different today. To have success, an artist needs to achieve and secure album sales of about 200,000 or 300,000. It is at that point that they start to repay their debt to the record company. They then get to the place where royalties start to come in. During the ’80s and ’90s, royalties and sales came in and came in, and a lot of bands managed to get to that level and earn significant sums from their records. Those were really the good times.
I want to talk a little about the record contractual arrangements. I have no problem, difficulty or issue with the model that is in place: this idea that you are signed to a record company, and you give over your rights as an artist and creator to the record company in order for it to do the promotion and distribution. That is utterly fine and nobody really sees anything wrong with that. It will try to make to make sure that the contractual arrangement will monetise that for you—to sell it, promote it and make sure it happens.
Proceedings interrupted (Standing Order No. 11(4)).
Health and Social Care
Madam Deputy Speaker, with permission, I would like to make a statement on the work we are doing to keep our country safe this winter. Today, we have published our health and social care approach to winter. This shows the preparations we are making so that health and social care services remain resilient, joined up and available to patients over the coming months, and it sets out what actions the public can take. As this plan shows, we are also doing everything in our power to give our NHS what it needs and keep it standing strong this winter, including through our plans to recruit more staff, give greater support to the NHS workforce and bolster capacity across urgent and emergency care. For example, the NHS has given ambulance trusts an extra £55 million to boost staff numbers this winter; there is nearly half a billion to fund an enhanced discharge programme; and we have measures to reduce pressure on accident and emergency departments, reduce waiting times and improve patient flow.
This document comes ahead of a critical winter for our NHS. We face the challenge of fighting covid-19, and the new omicron variant, along with the other challenges, such as flu, that winter can bring. We are doing everything we can to strengthen our vital defences. One of our main defences is, of course, our vaccination programmes, and we are expanding our booster programme, which hit the milestone of 19 million doses yesterday, along with delivering the largest flu vaccination programme in UK history. Yesterday, we announced how we will be buying a total of 114 million additional Pfizer and Moderna doses for 2022 and 2023, which will future-proof our Great British vaccination effort and make sure we can protect even more people in the years ahead. Another defence is antivirals, and it was fantastic news that yesterday another covid-19 treatment was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, after it was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate covid-19 infection.
Just as we tackle the virus, we are also tackling what the virus has brought with it. The pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on the NHS and led to a backlog for elective care. To fix this, the NHS needs to be able to offer more appointments, operations and treatments, and we need to adopt new, innovative ways of working so patients keep getting the best possible care. We are determined to maximise the capacity of the NHS to keep elective services going over the winter months so that people can keep getting routine treatments such as hip surgery and diagnostic tests. Today, I am pleased to update the House on the £700 million fund that we announced in September for elective recovery. This transformative funding, which is being split across all regions in England, will support 785 schemes across 187 hospital trusts. It will help reduce waiting times for patients by providing more operating theatres and beds, and greater capacity for our NHS. Today, we have published the regional breakdown for this funding, which was allocated on a fair basis, according to weighted population, to make sure there was an equitable spread across the country. This includes £112 million for the north-east and Yorkshire, £131 million for the midlands and £97 million for the north-west. At least £330 million will be invested in the NHS estate and a further £250 million will be spent on digital initiatives that aid elective recovery. Over £600 million from this fund has already been committed to approved bids, such as for new wards at University Hospitals Birmingham, a new South Mersey elective hub and a new, modular unit in Castle Hill Hospital in Hull. This investment will have a huge impact, and this is the beginning not the end of our investment, as we are continuing to identify and assess submitted bids for investment in the remainder of this financial year. It is part of £5.4 billion that we have announced to support the NHS response to the pandemic in the second half of the year and it builds on the work done ahead of last winter, where we invested £450 million to upgrade A&E facilities in over 120 separate trusts, to boost capacity. This is a Government who back the NHS. Ahead of what will be a testing winter, we are putting everything behind our health and care services, so everyone can access the services they need when they need them.
I conclude by urging everyone to play their part this winter by taking simple steps that can help our NHS. People should get the jabs they need for flu and covid-19 when the time comes, and should follow the rules that we have put in place. If they do that, we can protect not only the NHS but the progress that we have all made. I commend the statement to the House.
I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement. I pay enormous tribute to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth), who did a tremendous job as Labour’s longest-serving shadow Health and Social Care Secretary and worked constructively with the Government in response to the pandemic’s challenges. I intend to do the same.
In that spirit, I welcome this week’s announcements on the vaccine and booster roll-outs. I know from my own experience this year of kidney cancer and covid that some of the best people in our country work in health and social care. They are at the heart of my response.
NHS waiting lists stand at almost 6 million. Almost one in 10 people in England waits months or even years, often in serious pain and discomfort, because the Government have failed to get a grip on the crisis. Everyone understands that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that has placed the NHS under unprecedented pressure, but that does not excuse or explain why we went into the pandemic with NHS waiting lists at record levels and with unprecedented staff shortages.
Ministers want people to believe that the winter crisis is simply the result of the challenges of covid, but in reality, the entire health and social care system has been left dangerously exposed by their choices throughout the last 11 years. Before the pandemic, there were waiting lists of 4.5 million, staff shortages of 100,000 and social care vacancies of 112,000. This week, the National Audit Office detailed starkly that things are set to get even worse, with waiting lists set to double in three years.
Ministers cannot possibly believe that what we have been given today is a credible plan to meet those enormous challenges. If it were a genuine plan to prepare for the winter, why has it arrived on 3 December? A serious plan to bring down waiting lists would have the workforce at its heart, and would have clear targets and deadlines. A serious plan would recognise that, unless we focus on prevention, early intervention and fixing the social care crisis, Ministers have no chance of bringing waiting lists down to the record low levels we saw under the last Labour Government.
That Government had a serious plan to reduce waiting lists with 45,000 more doctors, 89,000 more nurses and the biggest hospital-building programme in our country’s history. The programme of investment, reform and clear targets delivered a decrease in waiting times from 18 months to 18 weeks. Although bricks and mortar and technology are important, and we do not sniff at the investment the Minister has outlined, the central challenge of the NHS winter crisis is a shortage of professional staff.
A credible plan to tackle the NHS winter crisis, which was foreseeable and foreseen, would have been published long before 3 December. Without a serious strategy to build the health and social care workforce that we need, this plan is not a plan at all.
I join the shadow Secretary of State in paying tribute to his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth), who is my near neighbour in Leicestershire. Although we may have occasionally crossed swords across the Dispatch Box, he is a deeply honourable and decent man. I also take the opportunity to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall), who is planning to take maternity leave in due course. She is a doughty champion for social care and the sector. I know that she will be much missed in her time away from the Dispatch Box.
I genuinely congratulate the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) on his post, although after that response, I do so with a degree of trepidation about what we might have in store for us in the months ahead from him challenging us—quite rightly. He is extremely diligent in all the roles he performs, so I welcome him to a challenging but fantastic role.
I will be relatively brief in my answers, because I am conscious that Fridays are for private Members’ Bills and private Members’ speeches. We brought the statement to the House because we believe it is important, given that it is going to the media, that we give the House an opportunity to question it.
The shadow Secretary of State was right to pay tribute to the workforce—the social care workforce and the health workforce, as well as all the other key workers who have helped get us to where we are in this pandemic. The workforce are the golden thread that runs through our NHS and through social care. Buildings and technology are important, but they are, essentially, the tools that the workforce use to provide that vital patient care.
We have a clear plan not only for winter, but for the recovery of waiting list times and for driving down those waiting lists. Ours is the party that has given the NHS record funding. Even before the pandemic, we put the £33.9 billion increase into law: we said we would do it, and we did do it. We are backing our NHS to give it the tools that it needs.
One issue on which I agreed with the hon. Gentleman is prevention. He is right: we need to look not only at the symptoms and the consequences in treating people, but at prevention of long-term and serious illness. He was also right in what he said about fixing social care, but I would urge a bit of caution. In 13 years we had two Green Papers, one royal commission and the 2008 spending review, all of which were designed to fix the social care problem. Result: nothing. This Government said they would come forward with a plan, and have come forward with a clear and coherent plan. I pay tribute to the Minister for Care and Mental Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), and indeed to her predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately), for the work that they have done in grappling with this very challenging issue.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned hospital buildings. Again, he was right: we are building 40 new hospitals. I would, however, say to him and to other Opposition Members that they should be very careful when talking about this subject. We all know that one of the biggest challenges we face with capital in our NHS is the millstone of PFI debt around the necks of NHS trusts—private finance initiative programmes put in place under the last Labour Government. We are still paying for that.
I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his post, and I suspect that on many occasions in the future we will have further such exchanges across the Dispatch Boxes. I am sorry that on his first outing in his new role he is facing me rather than the Secretary of State, but it is a pleasure to be opposite him.
I thank my hon. Friend for his statement. Can he confirm that it is the Government’s policy to encourage the reopening of mass vaccination centres to get through the bulge of booster jabs that we need? In that regard, will he congratulate the South Suffolk & North East Essex integrated care system, which has once again secured facilities at Harwich international port, and will he thank the port for offering those facilities again? We are hoping for a mass vaccination session on 19 and 20 December, and further sessions in January. Is that not the way to take the pressure off GPs?
Of course I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute not just to Harwich port but to his local healthcare system, about which he and I have spoken on many occasions. It does an amazing job: its willingness to find innovative solutions to boost our booster rates is exactly what we need to see. I commend everything that his local trusts are doing.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) and I spoke to social care professionals from the Wirral last night, they made it clear that the crisis is not to come; the crisis is right now. They have staff shortages, and those in work are knackered and devastated at what is going on in social care. My hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mick Whitley) and I wrote to the Secretary of State, but we have received no reply. Will the Minister go back to the Department, obtain a reply to my letter, and tell me now, today, what we are doing to secure more staff and better pay in social care?
As the hon. Lady knows, I do not have responsibility for social care. The Minister for Care and Mental Health is sitting next to me and will have heard what she said and will take it back to the Department to see whether a letter in response can be expedited.
We are fixing the system for the long term, but my hon. Friend the Minister has announced £162 million that is already going into the bank accounts of organisations to help support the social care workforce. The hon. Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) is right that we need short-term support, but we also need a long-term solution. We are putting the money in to support this vital sector.
I thank the Minister and the Government for the eight successful bids into University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which will see new wards opened and will go some way towards helping our local NHS through the winter. What a stark contrast that is with the Labour years. When the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was built it was supposed to cost about £500 million, but that has rolled into billions of pounds’ worth of private finance initiative debt. Is that not the difference between us and the Opposition?
The question that will be asked by people in those parts of the country where the ambulance service is already in crisis, such as Cornwall and Shropshire, is: how quickly can they get this money? We are three weeks from Christmas and we are already seeing a crippling of the service in these areas. When will they see improvement?
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that ambulance trusts across the country are under pressure, which is why they have already been given an additional £55 million, well in advance of this winter, to help them prepare for and manage the pressures they are experiencing. This money is on top of that, but they already have additional funding to help support them through what will be a very challenging winter.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting both the investment and the need for us, as the custodians of the taxpayer’s pound, to make sure that the money is well spent by implementing innovation and reform so that it gets to the frontline and delivers patient care, which is exactly what we are doing.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we will not get to the second private Member’s Bill today, so I hope it is okay if I mention that I am enormously grateful to the Government. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has just texted me with the good news that the Government and I, and all the charities, will be working together on acquired brain injury. We will now have a national strategy across all Departments. It is a miracle that the Government have suggested that I should co-chair it with the Minister for Care and Mental Health, because I can be very irritating—[Laughter.] I see I have united the House. Seriously, this is a really good day and I hope we will be able to make a dramatic difference to the millions of people in this country who have suffered an acquired brain injury. Answer that!
I have never found the hon. Gentleman to be irritating in any way, and I have always enjoyed my interactions with him on a range of issues. On a serious point, I pay tribute to him for his campaigning work on this issue. It is a huge step forward, and I know the insight he will bring, working with the Minister for Care and Mental Health, will genuinely make this a strategy of which we can all be proud. I congratulate him on his achievement.
My constituents in Watford will no doubt welcome the £700 million of funding detailed today to support the NHS this winter. Will my right hon. Friend please confirm that the investment will directly improve services for patients across the NHS? Will he also share my thanks to Watford General Hospital and all its staff for the fantastic work they continue to do at this time?
I am not right hon., but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the promotion. Of course I pay tribute to the staff at Watford General Hospital and, indeed, to him for his volunteering on the frontline in that hospital trust during the pandemic. He is absolutely right. As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan), it is vital that this money gets to the frontline and is used to improve patient care, which is exactly what we intend to do.
I am shocked and saddened by reports of a 23% increase in physical assaults on staff in Nottinghamshire hospitals in the past year, including 436 assaults on NHS workers in Nottingham hospitals. As we head into the season of Christmas revelry and hopefully responsible celebrations, will the Minister join me in condemning this completely unacceptable violence, which should never be part of any NHS worker’s job, and can he set out what he is doing to prevent such assaults and to protect and support NHS staff?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady; I had the pleasure some months ago of visiting one of her local hospitals, where I had the opportunity to speak to staff. They do an amazing job. No one, irrespective of the role they perform, should be subject to intimidation or violence in doing their job, still less those who are working hard to save lives, to protect us and to get us through this pandemic. I join with her entirely in condemning both physical and verbal assaults on members of our emergency services. I highlight the important legislation that went through recently to increase the penalties, and pay tribute to those responsible for getting it on the statute book—the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) once again. No one, absolutely no one, particularly in our emergency services, should be subject to abuse of any sort while doing their job.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who rightly highlights the hugely important contribution of GPs to our health system. We continue to look at the best ways to support them, not only by recruiting more GPs and supporting existing ones, but by investing in general practice buildings to ensure they have the tools to do the job.
My local hospitals, Hammersmith and Charing Cross, and their staff are under huge pressure. Until two years ago, the Government’s plan was to demolish Charing Cross hospital, so it is a welcome U-turn that it and Hammersmith hospital are now in the creatively titled 40 new hospitals programme. Leaving aside the fact that Charing Cross has been around for more than 200 years and is thus not really a new hospital, all my constituents want to know is how much investment there will be and when it will finally arrive.
I have not yet had the privilege of visiting the hon. Gentleman’s hospitals in this role; maybe at some point in the coming months, perhaps when they are not quite so busy, I will do so with him—if he will have me. We have committed to the investment, but it is important that that investment programme is run as a programme, with all the hospitals being looked at in terms of the phasing and profile of the investment to ensure it delivers the results we want. On that specific point, knowing the interest he has taken in it, I am happy to meet him to talk specifically about his local hospital project and the improvements to be made.
I welcome my hon. Friend’s statement, particularly the extra £112 million for north-east Yorkshire. Our NHS is a priority for everyone in this House and, indeed, a priority for every one of my Darlington constituents. Does he agree that putting our £33.9 billion cash boost on the statute book demonstrates this Government’s and our party’s unwavering commitment to the NHS?
I think it does exactly that, and demonstrates this party’s and this Government’s commitment to the NHS. What my hon. Friend has also demonstrated, as always, is his unwavering commitment to his constituents in Darlington and to championing their cause in this House.
I was born in the then relatively modern maternity unit at Wythenshawe hospital in my constituency. After 53 years, I am afraid one of us is beginning to look a little old and tired. The Minister knows we have a strategic regeneration framework for the whole site, with world-class breast, cystic fibrosis, heart, lungs and burns care facilities. We have the money in the bank to do it, but because of archaic Treasury rules we cannot get on with it. Come on, Minister—let us change those rules.
I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that it is not him who is looking a little old or worn around the edges. I understand the point he makes, and he and I have met about this particular issue, which goes back to what counts against capital allocations in terms of accounting. He tempts me to change Treasury rules; I fear that could be career-limiting, as I am not a Treasury Minister, but I will continue to talk to him and work with him to see whether we can find a way to allow the project to proceed.
I am reassured to see that applications to study nursing and midwifery have risen by 21% this year alone. Having recently joined my midwives on their March with Midwives up the high street in Guildford, I know that midwives urgently need their numbers boosted. Will my hon. Friend confirm that we remain on track to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament, as we promised in our manifesto?
The hon. Gentleman showed admirable brevity in making his point very clearly, as ever—[Interruption.] I suspect he faces a bit of competition from his hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane) for the funding. In my recollection—forgive me if I am off on this—I think that Halton and Warrington have submitted a bid for funding as part of the next eight. There is considerable interest in this. We are evaluating all those at the moment and, in the coming months, we will work that down to a shortlist. It would be wrong for me to prejudge that process, but it is not wrong, of course, for the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury) to continue championing his local hospital and its cause.
I welcome today’s announcement and join the Minister in paying tribute to all those working for the NHS. The biggest challenge in mid-Essex, and I suspect nationally, is access to primary care, particularly managing to get through on the telephone line and, after that, obtaining an appointment. Can the Minister say any more about what the Government are doing to address that?
My right hon. Friend is right to highlight primary care, essentially, as the front door for many people into the NHS system. GPs and general practice have done a fantastic job. They have worked very hard, but it has been very challenging. The Secretary of State announced additional money to support GP practices in returning to face-to-face appointments and in seeing more people—we have seen significant investment in that. The percentage of face-to-face appointments continues to go up, which I know matters to a large number of all our constituents.
Two weeks ago today, my hon. Friend was very generous with his time and in his support for the tragic case of my constituent, Jessica Brady, who passed away aged 27 from cancer. Will he confirm that the funding to support the NHS and the focus on policies such as the community diagnostic hubs, along with some of the other things that we discussed two weeks ago, will help people, including in Hertford and Stortford, to get the referrals that they need?
I remember that Adjournment debate very clearly. My hon. Friend made an incredibly moving and powerful speech, highlighting Jessica’s situation, what happened to her and her circumstances. My hon. Friend made the point about the importance of early diagnosis and a holistic approach to a patient’s symptoms, and then diagnosis and treatment. The investment that we are putting into diagnostic hubs will help to do exactly that and bring those diagnostics to the heart of our communities, allowing more people to be seen more quickly.
I thank my hon. Friend for the £700 million that he has announced this morning; my Don Valley constituents will be pleased to hear that. While I have the Minister’s attention, will he thank all the volunteers in Doncaster and all the constituents who have come forward to have their jab? And is there any chance of a new hospital?
I will certainly join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to all the volunteers and all those who have come forward for their jabs. For a brief moment, I thought that that was where he was going to end, but he is a proud champion of Doncaster, just as you are, Madam Deputy Speaker, and it would have been very strange were he not to conclude by lobbying once again for the new hospital that he wants. I pay tribute to him for that.
I welcome the £131 million for the midlands that the Minister has announced today. I am very aware, though, that my constituents in East Leake are being served by a health centre that is the oldest in Nottinghamshire and which is far too small for the population growth that we have seen in recent years. Twenty months ago, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care—my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill)—promised at the Dispatch Box that we would have a ministerial visit to East Leake so that the Department could see what we were dealing with. I completely understand that that was impossible at the height of the pandemic, but that has long passed, so will the Minister recommit to that visit today and take that request back to his Department, because despite repeated chasing by me and my office staff, we cannot get a date from it in the diary?
It would be easy to commit the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), to a visit because she is not here. Equally, I am conscious that East Leake is just up the road from my constituency, so it may be that my hon. Friend gets me instead. I will certainly look into that visit.
Following the point made by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury), the greatest challenge that we face to recovery from covid in Warrington is that our hospital is too small. Warrington trust recently submitted a bid for a new purpose-built hospital. Will my hon. Friend assure me that, in the new year, he will look favourably on Warrington?
My hon. Friend, along with many right hon. and hon. Members, is doing his bit to push the cause of his local hospital investment bid. As I said to the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury), I commend that, but it would be wrong for me to be drawn while the process is still under way.
I thank my hon. Friend for his statement on health and social care planning. The worry is, of course, that the omicron variant will put a lot of pressure on that planning. Will he update the House on where the Department has got in crunching the data on how dangerous or not omicron will be?
The latest statistic I have on the number of cases in this country is, I believe, 42. That work is still being done. We have seen various news reports today on things that might be encouraging, but I encourage everyone to wait and see while that analysis is done. It will take two to three weeks for the scientists to do their amazing work in understanding whether this new variant is more infectious and more virulent as well as how it responds to therapeutics and vaccines, and I am afraid that we will have to be patient while they do that work. Hopefully, they will come back with positive news, but it is too early to say.
I welcome the publication of the health and social care approach outlined by the Minister. The details of the funding breakdown to help tackle a backlog in elective care will undoubtedly provide hospitals with the clarity and support that they need. However, we also need to reduce the number of people remaining in hospital when they no longer require medical care. Does he agree that one possible option to help alleviate that would be intermediate care provision that is a step between hospital and home?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight that. My hon. Friend the Minister for Care and Mental Health has done a huge amount of work on both investment and working with local systems to improve hospital discharge for those who do not need to be in hospital any more, to give them that step-down support, be that domiciliary care or in other settings. In the current context, we must do that safely, but she is working extremely hard to deliver that and doing a fantastic job.
The investment that the Minister has announced together with the 100 community diagnostic hubs will make a big difference in helping people to get the referrals that they need. Does my hon. Friend agree that early diagnosis depends on being able to see the appropriate clinician face to face where necessary, whether in hospital or in a GP’s surgery?
My hon. Friend is right. The key words are “where necessary”, and that is a clinical judgment. I have highlighted the improvements that we are seeing in terms of the number of face-to-face appointments going up in primary care. Equally, we do not want to lose the benefits of telephone appointments or other appointments for those who wish to interact in that way. It is about trying to craft the system around the patient and taking those clinical judgments into account.
Will my hon. Friend allocate a portion of the enhanced winter discharge funding to mental health support for young people? I have had another secondary school student take their own life—that is my crisis. We need more mental health support and out-of-hospital provision for young people.
My hon. Friend highlights the hugely important point that over winter we face challenges not just in physical health but in mental health, particularly as we come through the pandemic. One reason that we are investing £500 million in mental health catch-up is that we know how vital it is that we do not just talk about parity of esteem but recognise it in the resources that we put in.
My constituents in Blyth Valley will welcome the £700 million in funding for the NHS. May I thank the staff in the sterilisation unit in Cramlington, the A&E hospital for Northumberland, for all the work that they have done? That goes to prove that we are a proactive Government, not a reactive Government, when it comes to healthcare.
I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the team in the sterilisation unit in his local accident and emergency hospital. He is absolutely right: throughout the pandemic and the Government’s existence we have given the NHS the resources and the backing that it needs to get on with the job.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. This money is being allocated to the regions, then to individual trusts. A large amount of that money has already been allocated to specific projects that have been announced today. The rest of the money, when allocated to local systems, will then be allocated by that local system—the people who know their area best.
Staff in hospitals in Nottinghamshire are working hard, as we have heard, sometimes in difficult circumstances. Today’s announcement includes an extra £4 million of spending for hospitals in Nottinghamshire. Does my hon. Friend agree that that will make a real difference to patients in Nottinghamshire, and will he join me in thanking staff in Nottinghamshire hospitals for the hard work that they are doing at the moment?
I am happy to join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the work of the staff in his local hospitals. He is absolutely right to highlight the fact that that money will make a huge and real difference to patient care in his local hospital trust and in his local area.
Will the Minister join me in thanking our fantastic primary care services across Teesside, without which we would not have had our world-leading vaccine roll-out? Will he come to Redcar and Cleveland to visit fantastic GP surgeries such as Normanby medical centre and the Saltscar surgery in Redcar, which have been doing all that they can under tremendous pressure?
It looks as if I might be going on tour again; the same thing happened when I last did one of these statements. I am happy to go to “Bluecar”—or Redcar, to call it by its proper name—to see my hon. Friend in his constituency, and to make such a visit when it can be arranged.
I welcome the Minister’s statement and the gargantuan amounts of money that he, his team and the Government are putting into the NHS. Can he provide me and my Dudley constituents with some assurances that that will translate into additional capacity and bringing down the covid-induced backlogs?
Absolutely, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. He rightly alludes to the fact that the inputs are important, but for those of us on the Government Benches, it is the results they bring—the outputs—and what we do with the money that matter. We will ensure that that money is well spent, harnesses innovation and delivers even better patient care and access to his constituents and many others.
Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, etc.) Bill
I am grateful for the opportunity to resume my speech—this almost feels like a second episode, perhaps of “EastEnders” or “Doctor Who”, with a drum roll but without all the excitement and cliffhangers—and I have a couple of little points to make. I shall be brief, as I know that several hon. Members wish to contribute to the debate.
I did not want to give the impression that I had any difficulty with the traditional model for contractual arrangements with artists. I think that there is a lot in the rights-ownership model, which has sustained the music industry since its inception and has made a huge success of it. It only created difficulties in the early noughties with the advent of digitisation. Music was probably the first discipline that began to experience difficulties with digitisation, and we know the problems that consumed the industry. Its very survival was under threat from pirates and companies such as Napster and so on.
We put in the infrastructure that helped to deal with that, and music has been a massive success since then. Global revenues hit £16.2 billion last year—the highest since 2002. This is the sixth consecutive year of growth. Between 2015 and 2019, revenues enjoyed by labels have grown by more than £200 million. People are making obscene amounts of money again, but not the people making the music.
The hon. Gentleman spoke about his own illustrious music recording career earlier. Does he recognise that someone who sold 1 million copies of a single in the 1990s typically saw their single reach the top 25 singles of the year, whereas about 1,700 different artists had more than 1 million streams last year? He is right that there is a lot of streaming, but it is being shared so much more widely, so is it not inevitable that many people will receive less?
People will receive less because they are paid such pitiful, insignificant sums every time one of their pieces of music is played on one of the streaming services. On iTunes, it is 0.003p per play for the artist. Apple Music is a little more generous, with 0.006p. Those are the sorts of difficulties that current artists are having to experience in this whole streaming environment.
The Ivors Academy and the Musicians’ Union have told us how bad the situation is for musicians, so we know how bad it is. They have said that 82% of professional musicians have made £200 per year less from streaming. This is totally different from the 1990s, when someone who did sell massive amounts of singles got real rewards. We are coming into the Christmas season, and someone who is lucky enough to have had a Christmas hit in the 1970s or 1980s—there have not been so many recently—will hit the jackpot, because their song will get played again and again and go right to the top of the steaming charts. All these historic artists will once again earn a huge bonus this Christmas season, and all power to them, because these are fantastic songs that we all love, but that gives just an indication of how difficult it is for modern artists to try to make some money.
I declare an interest similar to the hon. Gentleman’s, but on a much more modest scale. Does he agree that, whatever one’s view of the Bill, there are issues that need to be addressed and that the best way of doing that is to put the Bill in Committee, where it can be scrutinised in detail and, if necessary, amended?
I was waiting patiently for my colleague, the third member of MP4, to get to his feet today. In response to a question about whether Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, John Lennon is reported to have replied, “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles, ” but let me say to the right hon. Gentleman that he is the best drummer in MP4. He is absolutely right that the Bill really needs to get to Committee so that we can ensure that it is properly debated, because the model is not working—the model is broken.
Let me say to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West that the equitable remuneration model is the very least we should be doing. It is a start in terms of addressing some of the inequities and musicians getting a just share for the music they produce. What I do not understand is the resistance to what is a very modest proposal to address this issue. I cannot think of any other way that we could address it. The Select Committee spent hours and hours and months and months looking at this issue, trying to find another solution and another way forward, but none was forthcoming.
The music industry did not give us any suggestions or ideas when it was asked about this. It did not even give us the data required—I think that DCMS had to pay for the data from the BPI in order to get it. The industry has not engaged with us; it has not come up with solutions. The only solution on the table is the modest proposal from my hon. the Member for Cardiff West for an ER distribution regime that could apply to streaming.
What I do not understand is why the Government have not taken it on board enthusiastically so that we can get the Bill into Committee. Let us get all the partners together. It is not good enough for the BPI and the labels to stand aside and not look at this issue properly. I am confounded and bewildered by the objections from the Association of Independent Music. I thoroughly do not understand them, and I will have to speak to the association, because it has to try to make it clear to me how independent music providers, producers and record labels are being disadvantaged. I just do not see it, and I am bewildered as to their objection to this proposal.
On what basis, I am keen to ask, does the hon. Gentleman think the Government are resisting the proposal, seeing as I have not spoken yet?
I am perhaps getting ahead of myself. I am really grateful for that intervention from the Minister, because it is extremely helpful. I know he is a fair-minded and consensual Minister—one who tries to build consensus across the House. This is a great opportunity to do that, because I think he will hear from hon. Members today that there is a lot of enthusiasm for the proposal. It is a means to fix a problem that needs resolving. I am grateful to him, and I will listen very carefully to his remarks.
Let me finish by saying that this issue needs to be sorted. I have waited 20 years for a Bill like this. I have been in the music industry and seen exactly what it is like. It is a field of dreams: if someone makes it big, they can escape and evade their background and go on to huge success and riches. It is an amazing industry and great to be part of. As a musician, I woke up every day thrilled about what I was doing: walking on to a stage with people cheering—not like in the Chamber, with everybody baying and aggressively intervening. Those were different days indeed.
I am just about to finish—I want to allow other people to speak.
We have this opportunity to fix this issue, and I am encouraged by what the Minister said. We have an opportunity to resolve a really serious situation, and I really hope the Government take advantage of it.
I should declare an interest: I am the chair of the all-party film and production industry group, of which the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), who has done a great job by bringing this Bill to the House, is also a member. The group’s work covers music and many other things referred to in my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
I also want to register my interest as a huge music fan. I always have been, not only in respect of listening to music, which I will talk about a little, but as a musician myself—albeit that I have never even contemplated reaching the heights reached by the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), who escalated to the mountaintops when I was in the foothills of musical achievement.
I wish not only to give my view on why music is so important to this country’s culture and why digital innovation is an important part of where we are heading but to look at that in the context of what the Bill would mean and the potential risks of it coming into force as it is currently. Let me state clearly, though, that I am very supportive of the principles that have been put forward today. We must celebrate and support artists throughout the UK and enable them to have a platform so that they have a stage for the entire world. It is important that we have the opportunity to look ahead and learn from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s output and report. I support all Members who say to the Minister that we should make sure we build on that work. I am confident that the Government will listen and that we can grow from that.
Let me go back to when I was a youngster. The very first record that was given to me when I was a child was by—we have had a lot of references to pigs in recent speeches—Pinky and Perky. It was volume 2 of their famous vinyl album, if I recall correctly. I was a very young kid but I remember being given a fantastic small portable turntable, which was quite unique back in those days. I remember that crystal moment, both audio and physical, of putting the needle on the record for the first time and hearing those little scratches of noise before—bang!—the music kicked in. I think in that instance it was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”, so it was not quite the rock and roll that we may come to in the Chamber today, but that moment was so glorious.
With streaming now, we do not have those moments, although vinyl is making a comeback. For me, that memory marks the power and importance of music in our lives: it carries us on our journeys throughout life. It is the audio track to all our moments—and often is the moment. When I look back at the impact of that moment on me—I am sure I will be laughed at in the media for mentioning that as the first song I heard on vinyl as a child—it highlights the joy of not just the musicianship but the craftsmanship and science that went into that record. Many years later, I became a physicist and learned much more about wavelengths and technology. Vinyl was an enormous achievement for the world, getting music across barriers and creating conversation across cultures. Music has the power to do that—it has such an important role—so when we look at important Bills like this we have to make sure that we do not risk diminishing the UK’s ability to reach the world. I believe Pinky and Perky may have been American, but that is by the by.
Over the years, my joy in music and my love for music grew further, and by the time I was a teenager, CDs were the big thing. I remember getting my first CD—I cannot recall what song it was, if I am honest—and I was struck by the ease with which I could play it and use it, as well as by the technology. Of course, as a physicist, the idea of lasers being used to play music was quite an incredible thing. There was also the fact that all of a sudden I wanted to go out and collect music, physically going to places to find it. I remember regularly going to local small music shops and looking for indie music—independent music—which is often the lifeblood of much of what we do in our culture, especially for teenagers trying to find their way through society by making friends and going to concerts; of course, doing so was often one of the challenges during the pandemic last year.
What that meant at the time was that I started to get into much more serious music, such as Nirvana. I was a big Nirvana fan, and I always remember trying to work out the lyrics of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. As hon. Members may know now, the main chorus includes “a mulatto” and “a mosquito”, but at the time I could not find the lyrics anywhere. We did not have an internet to quickly get the saccharine effect of being told the lyrics, who the artist is and all their back catalogue. I had to search it out, and if I recall rightly—I may be corrected—I think the lyrics of the “Nevermind” album appeared for the first time in the maxi-single CD of “Lithium”, which was one of the tracks. I recall being really excited in HMV in Birmingham New Street, where I was growing up at the time, flicking through and finding all the lyrics to the songs I thought I knew the words to, but realised I had got terribly wrong.
Our right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) talked about the blank tape levy, and as my hon. Friend is talking about lyrics, did he ever, like me, have blank tape recordings of songs from the radio and go back through them over and over again to try to find out the lyrics because they were not available?
My hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point. As a fan of Peter Kay, I know he does an incredibly good sketch—I recommend it to anyone who can find it, but especially on his own DVDs—in which he explains quite a good story about getting wrong the lyrics of famous songs. I strongly recommend that my hon. Friend continues to do that, even though what she did back in those days may have been on the border of what we were allowed to do.
I say this because there is an important point here about discovery, such as the discovery of new artists and the discovery of new musicians. One of the challenges I find with the Bill—as I say, I am very supportive of its principles—is that streaming platforms do provide a great opportunity to find new artists. Not all of them do it to make money just off that platform, but also refer people to TikTok or other platforms to explore their other artwork, forms of art or music, as well as to help tell different types of stories.
One of the great pleasures of coming into this House was meeting the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart). I remember, having worked in radio, hearing his songs on the radio, including “Loch Lomond” from his days in Runrig. I was able to go away and listen to his songs, and in fact I have some of them on my phone now, so having listened to him speak, I can listen to him sing as well.
Absolutely. One of the great advantages of the internet is that it has opened up to us so many artists, some of whom were, I have to say, before my day. The internet allows such discovery to continue in a way that perhaps would not have been possible without it.
My hon. Friend makes an incredibly powerful point, which highlights the immediacy for us now of music and of art in general, which I see with film and in many other areas. Recently, as a member of the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill, I was praising the Common Sense website, which states what age a child should be to watch a film. That has solved many arguments in families, who are able to find quickly not just the age rating for a film or television show but the recommended age at which a child could perhaps start watching things. With the conversations we can have, and the immediacy with which we can find information as well as music and movie soundtracks, the interconnectivity that we have through culture is incredible.
I completely agree with my hon. Friend that streaming has expanded the opportunity to become well known for artists who otherwise may not be that well known, whether they write music for films or television or write their own songs. Does he agree that streaming has also helped to reduce the prevalence of piracy, and that it should be welcomed as an innovation in the music industry?
Absolutely; my hon. Friend makes a powerful point. I recall that in the early 2000s there were sites such as Napster, which in their very early stages shared content that I am sure the artist did not even know was being shared. Over time, of course, they changed their approaches. That is such an important point. We have to get the right balance between protecting artists 100%, ensuring innovation with regard to platforms and new forms of engaging with media and music, and making sure that we remain competitive in the UK. If we do not do that, we may do a disservice to up-and-coming artists, especially independent ones, over time.
Let me continue my music life story. I am pleased to have the artist Limahl—Members may know him—in my constituency. I was chatting to him just today about this issue. I have just realised that I do not want Members to think I am going to give the “Never Ending Story” of my life—the first of many puns; I apologise. From there, though, my love of music was in discovering it and meeting other people who loved it.
One thing we do not often think about with regard to streaming is the ability it gives us to find like-minded fans—to engage with others, to support others and to find people who are also really into certain bands and musicians, often very niche ones. Those musicians are not always pop or rock-and-roll stars; they may be musicians who work on film soundtracks or spend time as backing singers or backing artists. That shows the breadth of what we talk about when we are discussing streaming and, in terms of copyright and its role in legislation and in Government, the complexity that is involved in what look, on the surface, like very simple changes; actually, when we dig deeper, we realise that they affect people in many ways. I urge the Government to ensure—I have had warm words and clear assurances on this—that they engage now and make sure that we have those conversations with all parties so that we do not just end up representing one group and inadvertently creating issues for many others.
Let me fast-forward—or skip forward, perhaps, in the music terminology—to university. Not many people know this, but I did poetry when I was at university. I even did poetry on stage, which is probably what led me a few years later to publish some children’s books. I was fortunate to meet some fantastic, like-minded people who were setting up a radio station at my university, De Montfort University in Leicester. We set up—I say “we”, but they did most of the work; my friends set up a radio station called DemonFM. This was about 25 years ago. These incredible people, including a guy called Chris North, one of my friends, were instrumental in making that radio station happen. We came together not because we all liked the same music but because we loved music, and we loved making sure that people could hear that music wherever they lived in Leicester, within the available FM range. For me, that meant tapping into a group who were not just passionate about music, but actually doing something about it; one of the important themes of our discussion is making sure that we do not inadvertently limit people’s ability to access music, whether that is via streaming or through radio and other routes. During that time, I met some incredibly inspirational people, some of whom went on to work in the industry or in radio.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that point of order. I assure him that I am listening carefully and will let the House know if anything is disorderly. Obviously lots of others want to speak, so the hon. Member for Watford (Dean Russell) might not want to give his entire life story. It is quite important that his speech be relevant to the Bill, which is about the remuneration of musicians.
I thank the hon. Member for Swansea West (Geraint Davies) for making sure that I stay on track, as it were.
The reason I am saying all this is that I am trying to give an illustration of how people get into the music business. Some people may not necessarily be No. 1 pop stars on Radio 1 or at the forefront of everyone’s mind when we think about rock and roll or music streaming, but there is a huge weight of people who are fans—individuals or groups who are more at the edges. I have heard statements such as the following from the BPI:
“This Bill would bind British music in red tape, reduce income for the most entrepreneurial artists, stifle investment and innovation by record labels, and disproportionately harm the independent sector.”
That is why I am saying these things.
It is not just about streaming in the broad sense or the famous artists we have all heard of, including our fantastic colleague the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire. It is about the long tail of artists and the people who want to be able to access art—music is art. It is about a wide range of speakers, artists and voices. It is also about diversity and making sure that up-and-coming new artists can be heard in the next five or 10 years and that we have the right infrastructure in place in the UK to enable that and support them. My concern about the Bill is that, noble as its goals are, it risks having an inadvertent impact that may not deliver on that aim. That is why I tell these stories; I assure hon. Members that it is not about trying to speak for the sake of speaking.
We might expect the major corporations and music labels to say that the Bill would affect their ability to invest, but that does not necessarily mean that it is not true. Having already seen the market share of UK artists reduce over recent years, we really need to get the balance right, understand the dynamics of the system and proceed. We are all grateful to the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) for giving us the opportunity to discuss the matter and look at it very carefully.
I thank my hon. Friend for that valuable contribution.
If I may jump ahead again, I have been very involved in radio. I had my own show called “Dean’s Poetry Show”. It did not have the most inventive of titles, but I played all sorts of music on it, from Frank Zappa to John Lennon and even Max Bygraves—hon. Members may remember “Show Me the Way to Go Home”, which is what many may wish to do at the end of this speech—right through to contemporary bands such as Oasis. I found out about the complexity of the industry and of the reasons why people get into music and want to be performing artists.
Off the back of the radio show, I set up an acoustic night. I found that there are lots of people who just enjoy doing music. They do not necessarily want to be at the top of the charts; they just want to be able to spread their music to as wide an audience as possible. I remember learning the guitar at the time and really getting into the mechanics of the artistry. We have to ensure that whatever the outcome of today and whatever the Government do, we continue to inspire people to pick up a guitar, to learn the piano, to be able to use the new techniques available.
I will come to digital in a moment. On an iPhone or an iPad it is now possible very quickly to create a song and put down our thoughts, with tools such as GarageBand. We can do things that perhaps were not possible just a few years ago, but that means that the opportunity for people to be musicians has grown exponentially. We need to make sure that that exponential growth is not limited by our approaches to Bills, legislation and guidance.
I feel like the privileged position of being MP for Watford was a calling for me, because Watford is such a creative space. Over the past few years, I have had the good fortune to see that culture and art up close. Watford has the Colosseum, which has done recordings for films such as “The Lord of the Rings”—really incredible pieces that have been heard around the world by millions, if not billions, of people. There are also brilliant small locations such as The Horns, which has regular bands and a lot of fantastic cover bands. The LP Café is a celebration of vinyl, where people can try to find music on their own time, having a nice coffee while exploring new types of music; this often ties into the artwork as well. There are also nightclubs such as PRYZM and others, where people can just go and have a drink, and enjoy the music for what it is. The key thing is that music ties across so many areas. My worry with the Bill is that we might end up unintentionally limiting that ability.
AIM has recently said:
“We have expressed our concerns and are open to reviewing and discussing them with all stakeholders to figure out the best way forward. Legislating before this is reckless.”
That comes back to the point about understanding diversity.
The promoter of this Bill has suggested that the best way forward would be to pursue these issue in Committee, which would take some time. Clearly, the passage of the Bill would conclude within the current Session. Is it my hon. Friend’s understanding that the timetable for the engagement exercise that the Government have announced is a 12-month process—well beyond the timetable for the Bill?
I assure hon. Members that I will wrap up shortly. Legislation often is a long and winding road—excuse the pun—but I will try not to make that the case with my speech.
Let me return to the role of digital. We have to ensure that the UK continues to be at the forefront of digital innovation, and that all the players—those from streaming, the artists and the industry—come together to ensure that that happens.
Paul Pacifico, the chief executive of the UK’s Association of Independent Music, wrote to all MPs ahead of this debate and made the point that,
“Despite its best efforts, this Bill will penalise those that can afford it least—the diverse artists in our culturally vibrant independent music community and entrepreneurs who lack the economies of scale of their multinational competitors.”
The reason that I have raised all these comments about my own experience is really to highlight that if we get this right—if we collaborate with everyone and engage with everyone—we could do something really important in the UK, and I know that the Government are keen to do that. My fear is that if we get it wrong, we could cut off the that long tail, impact independent artists, and risk that person who is going to get a guitar for Christmas in a few weeks’ time never reaching their potential.
I will leave it there. Thank you for indulging me, Madam Deputy Speaker.
It is a privilege to be able to speak in this debate, which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) has brought forward. It is a fantastic Bill and I am delighted to have this opportunity. I wish to comment on a couple of things that the right hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) said; it brought back great memories of my teenage years and pressing the start-stop button just to get it right. This was making us feel quite old, but then we are getting quite old. I totally accept some of the things he said about Lucian Grainge, but I also want to put on record that I believe Lucian Grainge is a US taxpayer, not a UK taxpayer, which means, disappointingly, that the huge amount of money he is being paid is not coming to our Exchequer.
I am sure the hon. Lady is right about where Lucian Grainge pays his taxes, because he did relocate to Los Angeles, but he is very much a British citizen still. When I was chairing the Select Committee, before she became a member of it, we were looking at the industry. We visited LA and Lucian Grainge made time to talk to all of us, and I think his heart remains firmly here, as of course do a lot of his artists.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that comment. Our Select Committee has looked in great detail at this issue in recent months. I do not come from a musical background—you really would not want to hear me sing—but I have always been a huge music fan. I was always told off for spending all my pocket money on music—on Smash Hits, as it was in those days, to see the lyrics, and on vinyl. One thing came out when we were looking at the impact of the pandemic on the music industry. As people could not perform live, that source of funding completely stopped for musicians and artists, and we then went on to look at streaming. Until that point, I had not given a huge amount of thought to where musicians’ and artists’ money came from—it had not really crossed my radar to such a degree. As we went through this streaming inquiry, what became apparent was the absolute unfairness of the system on the people who produce the music we love. It is not the people at the top of the music industry that this Bill would affect to any huge degree, but the people coming through—not just those starting out, but those at a middling level, who are winning awards; we have probably heard of them but they are not quite at the top of their career. They are literally struggling to pay their bills and that is not right. If this is not put right, people will not enter the music industry because they simply will not be able to afford to do so. That is of no benefit to anybody and that is the issue that needs sorting out.
It was interesting listening to just how opaque some of the dealings are between the record companies, publishers and everybody else. I innocently said it sounded a bit like a cartel—I am not saying it is a cartel, but it just sounded like one. Trying to follow where money was coming from, where it was changing hands and where it was going to was almost impossible. This idea of equitable remuneration struck me as a sensible way forward. I am not saying it is a perfect solution, as there probably is not one, but it is a sensible way forward to at least begin to put right the issue that clearly exists. As we all know in this place, the way the digital world has transformed our lives over the past 20 years, in music or in anything else, means that it is very difficult for legislation to keep pace with the changing digital world. Digital skills need updating every five months, but legislation in this area certainly has not changed every five months. I am pleased that the Government have referred some of this area to the Competition and Markets Authority, because there are definitely things that need looking at there.
I turn now to contract adjustment and the fourth part of this Bill, which deals with the 20 years to give notice on a contract. I have been a little surprised at some of the things I have heard about that in the House today. When we start any job, we get a contract of employment. In this day and age, very few people will still be party to that contract of employment after 20 years. People enter into a legal contract when they get married, but there is nothing to say that after any point, if that does not work, they cannot give notice and go through a legal process to get divorced. Why should artists tied to record labels, often at a very early stage of their career when they often do not have sufficient advice and support, be tied to a contract for more than 20 years if they do not choose to be? Just as record companies can renege on the contract after however many records have been produced, it is right that after 20 years any artist should be able to do so.
Could the hon. Lady explain to me a practical point on this? If one particular artist were to give notice, that would then mean that the piece of music could not be broadcast or used in streaming. What would that mean for all the other artists performing on that track?
I do not think the basis for the hon. Gentleman’s question is quite accurate—I do not think it has that impact. I do not think a period of 20 years is an unreasonable length of time after which to be able to give notice on a contract if somebody chooses to do so.
In conclusion, there seems to be broad agreement among most hon. Members in the House today that the impact of the streaming of music and of people’s work is not fair, that remuneration as it stands is not fair, and that it would be welcome if we could take this Bill to the next stage to look at it in more detail. If that ends up not happening today, I urge the Government to look carefully at this area of legislation. Something must be done to ensure fair and equitable remuneration for people starting out and moving through the music industry so that, as an old trade unionist like me would say, they get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
I begin by paying tribute to the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) for his tireless work to bring this Bill to the House and, more broadly, to raise the profile and significance of the rights and remuneration of musicians in Parliament and beyond.
How do we get there? How do we get those rights and remunerations for our musicians and creatives? How do we ensure a fair payment for artists in this age of streaming? First off, we should acknowledge that streaming has completely changed the economics of music, and understand too that streaming saved the music business. It made it convenient once again for people to consume music legally, rather than through illegal file sharing and copying, as many hon. Members have talked eloquently and way too knowledgeably about today.
The idea of every single song being legally available in one place is quite incredible. It is now commonplace, but it was a brave and innovative vision and move from Daniel Ek, Spotify’s founder, back in 2006. Streaming has significantly broadened access to music. There were 100 million new music subscribers in 2020, taking the total to 467 million, whereas back in 2015 it stood at 76.8 million. Each one of those subscribers is paying on average £120 a year, so we can see the growth and the enormity of streaming. Yes, it has revolutionised the industry, but it is worth a significant amount of money that needs to be fairly distributed among the writers, creatives and performers.
My focus today, however, is on these needs that must be addressed: the power imbalance between the artist, the record company and the publisher; the conflict of interest between the major publishers and the record companies; and the lack of transparency in the industry. Let us look first at the relationship and interplay between the three major record labels, which hold the master recordings, and the control they have over the three major publishing companies, which hold the song copyrights.
The three major record companies, Universal, Warner and Sony, own the three largest publishers, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music and Sony Music Publishing, respectively. Obviously, concerns are raised about how those three publishers can advocate for songwriters’ interests if they are being controlled by their parent companies.
As a guide to how the revenue from music is split, the typical income earned by a master holder is about 80% and the typical income earned by a publisher is about 15%. Given that the major record labels own the publishers, it is in their interest to push for the income received on the master-sale side to be greater than on the writers-publishing side. The record companies, not the publishers, also do the deals with the digital service platforms so they can take the lion’s share of royalties from those songs.
To add to that, if hon. Members can believe it, there is even an imbalance in the speed of the payment. The record companies are paid much faster than the publishing side, because they control the supply chain. They take payments through an automated process, while the publishing side is paid through a more cumbersome manual process. Those imbalances, and the further imbalances that run from them, should be the focal point of policy makers and industry scrutiny.
I welcome the Government’s intervention in referring the matter to the Competition and Markets Authority. I have a couple of other helpful suggestions that might go some way to improving the relationship between artists, record companies and publishers. Songwriters and artists should have a direct seat at the table in the remuneration discussions and should be represented by their peers, not the record labels or publishers.
A music stream should be treated as a licence, not a sale. A licence gives the artist 50% of the royalties for a song, whereas a sale gives them between 18% and 30%. Since streaming became the main mechanism for consuming music, record companies have unilaterally decided that a stream should be considered a sale, because it maximises their profits. Artists and songwriters need to update clauses in their contracts to reflect the true nature of how their songs are consumed, which is via a licence.
Clarification also needs to be introduced to the grey area of breakage in record companies and digital service providers. A streaming is not included in any detail in most agreements and breakage is not subject to a contractual method of distribution. Confirmation is needed that all income gained in that way by major record labels is distributed fairly and appropriately. Some have even suggested a kitemark.
On the lack of transparency, for an artist to understand their payslip or royalty statement, they need to be shown two key things: how many units they sold and how much each unit sold for. If an artist wishes to inquire about the real level of sales, they will need an audit which, at the moment, is incredibly expensive and can take about 24 months to book and complete. That is not how payslip querying should be. The artist never gets to see the total amount that has come in. An online seller of goods would know the gross amounts and what needed to be deducted for services and commission, but that is not the case in the music industry. That needs to be changed.
In a final twist, if an artist manages to get their books audited to see what is coming in from the streaming service, should they ask for back-up information—in the old days, they could get the cost of CDs and how many copies were sold—in this instance, from streaming, that is covered by a non-disclosure agreement that removes the right to see how the money flow comes in, because companies say that it affects their ability to be competitive. Such things need to be changed.
Writers and artists are businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors who have created a product. We have to be on the side of those creatives and musicians, because they deserve their full dues. As the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) rightly pointed out, covid shone a spotlight on the area. In the past, artists could go out and earn extra money by performing at live events, but they could not in covid. They relied more heavily on what was coming in from streaming, but there was nothing there to rely on. Many of them have been left without income for a considerable period, and have therefore turned to the state for support.
It would be remiss of me, as a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, not to ask this question. Why should the taxpayer pick up the bill for the international giants who are not paying their contributors, creators and writers correctly? That is wrong. We might have needed to provide some extra money through universal credit, and that would be right, but these international companies should have paid their way and not asked the British taxpayer to pay those wages on their behalf.
There are many reasons—and I say this from a Conservative point of view—why we have got to get this right. These are points of principle. We do not believe in monopolies controlling an industry; we do not believe in supersized entities at all, whether they are the state or giant companies, and nor do we believe in imbalances in negotiations or conflicts of interest. However, we do believe in a fair deal for the taxpayer, and for the Exchequer too—money should be coming into the Exchequer to pay for all the public sector services that we need—and we believe absolutely in the rights of the individual. We need to stand up for these people.
It has been argued that the record companies must spend vast amounts of these artists’ money to pay for new artists. That is questionable, if not risible. Any other business that saw such a failure rate in the new products it was bringing to the market would look at its business model and ask, “Are we getting this right?” That is particularly relevant in an age when we can spot a star by looking at the number of followers on Instagram, YouTube and various other platforms.
Moreover, the companies are reducing the money of artists who have done well. They are spending the money of artists to whom, I would say, they owe a duty of care because they have contracts with them—contracts on which they embarked on a potential, hopeful, going-forward basis. Surely the artist to whom they owe that duty of care must come before the potential artist.
I would also throw in an auditor for these companies’ books. If they are reducing profits from their artists, on their own books, that means that they are reducing the amount of tax that they pay to the country.
My right hon. Friend is making a brilliant speech, but I am less convinced by that last point. The system does work on the basis of “blooding” a vast number of artists, and there is no business model in existence that can accurately predict who those people are. I take on board many of the points that my right hon. Friend made so well earlier in her speech, but we need to ensure that the funding and the machinery are there. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) said he accepted the model whereby they invest so that one’s artistry can reach a market. If we break that, we break the future for a young British artist, and we do so by rewarding the giants of yesterday who might want more money today. We do not want to cut off the future for the artist who wants to make it tomorrow.
I do not have everyone’s company accounts, but I have been looking at those of Warner Music Group, and in particular at the amount that it is spending on what are described as
“Artist Repertoire costs as a proportion of recorded income”—
the money that it is investing in going out to find those new artists. I note that in 2017 the figure was 31.92%, and I am sure my hon. Friend will be surprised to learn that it went down in 2018, 2019 and 2020, to 30.13%. The amount that Warner Music Group says it is investing has gone down. As I said earlier, should these companies wish to identify an artist who could flourish, it is much easier to do so than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago: they can see what an artist’s following is online.
I end with a couple of questions for the Minister. Will he update the House on what is happening with the Competition and Markets Authority? When will we know the decisions and conclusions? Could he refer the legal contracts and this conflict of interest to the Law Society for investigation? It is time the record companies recognised the unjustifiable imbalances between the revenue they receive and the revenue received by artists, and adjusted their models to better account for the growing popularity of streaming services. For that reason I will be supporting the Bill today.
It is a pleasure to speak in this debate with the Minister in his place.
I start by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) on his campaign and his very effective speech, which highlighted his deep expertise on this issue. It is important that we pay tribute to his talent, as seen in his solo work and in MP4, of which there are several members here today and which has brought much entertainment both inside and outside the House. It is great to see the talent of Members of Parliament on display in different ways, connecting with the challenges that many of our constituents also face.
We have heard some excellent contributions from both sides of the House, and I will build on the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott), the hon. Members for Watford (Dean Russell) and for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) and the right hon. Members for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) and for Tatton (Esther McVey), who illustrated how, although there are many complexities in the debate, there is a common thread and the House recognises the depths of the issues. The question is how we move forward, not whether we move forward.
The UK has a special and unique place in the history of popular music. Our music industry is globally renowned and is an important part of our cultural offering to the world. To support the industry, from new artists to global artists, we must ensure they are part of a fair system and that they have equal bargaining power to enable them to flourish and to make sure we support a new generation of British talent to come forward and create new music.
British music has taken its inspiration from jazz, blues, gospel, rock and rap from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the USA and around the world, and it has given it a distinctly British twist to give new types of music to the world. The Beatles, the Kinks, Oasis, Blur, Adele and many more provide the soundtrack to our lives and the defining songs of our popular culture. Whether it is ska, Afrobeat or bhangra, music has benefited from immigration into the UK.
Down the decades, the music industry has contributed billions of pounds to the Exchequer, both in domestic sales and in exports, yet the industry has a dark side, a history of exploiting artists and ripping off the musical talent on which the whole industry’s success relies. The 1960s gave us some of the greatest bands, but they also gave us the sharp managers who invented new ways to rip off talented and often working-class youngsters.
Bands such as Small Faces powered the swinging ’60s, but they never saw the money they had earned. The recoupment deal was born when artists were working to pay the music companies, not the other way around. Of course musicians, often young and ambitious, might quickly sign away their future for the sake of a record deal. It is a form of exploitation, it is about imbalances in power and it is unfair.
I pay tribute to Tom Gray and the #BrokenRecord campaign. He is a talented musician and composer, and a worthy recipient of the Mercury music prize with the band Gomez. He has deployed his organisational and persuasive skills to help highlight the issue of performers’ rights and remuneration. Tom has worked so hard along with the Musician’s Union, the Ivors Academy, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West and others to highlight the broken music market.
Labour supports the Second Reading of the Bill, which aims to address the unfairness in how the remuneration system treats musicians for their work on streaming platforms. In April, the campaign that is the backdrop to the Bill saw more than 150 musicians, artists and songwriters write to the Prime Minister to ask him to fix streaming and put the value of music back where it belongs: in the hands of music makers. The Bill would do that by placing the treatment of revenues gained from music streaming services on a common footing with revenues gained from other sources such as physical music sales.
As hon. Members have said, over the last 18 months musicians’ livelihoods have been shattered by their inability to perform live at gigs, concerts, festivals and shows—or even in the recording studio. We have also seen the disappearance of licensing income for artists as pubs, clubs, restaurants, hairdressers and so on have been forced to close. There has also been real destitution for session musicians, stage hands and the many trades associated with the music industry.
The Musicians’ Union is right to say that the last 18 months have highlighted the importance of streaming as a way for musicians to earn a living. As my hon. Friend highlighted, streaming has created huge opportunities for musicians. Let us be clear, however, that a fair income for musicians was a deep problem before the pandemic. It is also a classic example of technology outstripping our legal framework and of how it works to profit a few and exploit the many. It is the House’s duty to modernise the law to reflect the reality of the music industry and challenge the status quo whereby most streaming income—an estimated 55% of it—ends up in the pockets of record labels, streaming platforms and digital giants while 15% goes to artists and publishers. That is compounded by the imbalance, highlighted by the right hon. Member for Tatton, in the speed of payments.
The Bill would give effect to certain recommendations in the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s July report, “Economics of music streaming.” I pay tribute to the Committee for its forensic work on this issue. The Bill would update the law on performer, composer and songwriter rights to reflect the changing landscape. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West laid out clearly why that is needed. When an original music work—or lyrics accompanying music—is created, the composer or composers of that work have rights under the 1988 Act to control exploitation of that work. Composers and performers may transfer the administration of those rights to a collecting society, which addresses the exploitation of members’ works on a collective basis and charges those who use their works. Composers and performers may transfer their rights to receive revenue from the exercise of making available rights to third parties such as record companies and publishing companies. Their entitlement to receive a share of that revenue is determined contractually.
With the change in consumption patterns, music streaming now accounts for the predominant part of the UK music industry’s revenue. However, it is suggested that about eight out of 10 performers earn less than £200 a year from music streaming. Performers have a right to authorise and control the making available of a work on which they have performed to the public via radio or television, for example, or music streaming. However, while performers are entitled to equitable remuneration for performances for radio, television and other channels, they are not in respect of music streaming due to the exceptions set out in the 1988 Act. The predominant part of income therefore typically remains with the person or persons to whom the performer has transferred their rights.
Composers and performers also do not have a general right to receive information on how their music has been used and on the revenue that it has generated from persons other than collecting societies. Further, composers and performers often enter into contractual arrangements for their work to be exploited at a very early stage in their careers, often without the benefit of legal or other advice. Such arrangements can be long term, and can result in the transfer of rights to those seeking exploitation. The Bill seeks to address those inequalities in bargaining power and rights.
Labour recognises that music streaming saved the recording industry over a decade ago, when piracy threatened the fundamental basis of copyright. Those issues were alluded to by the right hon. Member for Maldon. As with other areas of technology, the streaming market has little or no competition, which allows oligopolistic behaviour from platforms such as Spotify. The inquiry by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee exposed the inequity at the heart of the new global market in music streaming. We support Second Reading, but we know that the chance of that leading to meaningful change is slim unless the Government give the Bill parliamentary time. I believe that the Minister is listening, and I look forward to hearing what he says about how we can move forward.
We attach great value to the CMA market inquiry, which has been alluded to by hon. and right hon. Members, into the industry. We look forward to reading the report when it is published next year, and I echo calls from the right hon. Member for Tatton for an update from the Minister about when we can expect those findings.
The Bill’s proposals are an important step forward in this debate. There is cross-party support for change, as the Select Committee report showed. The Government have promised to act, but I worry that the response to the report did not go far enough. It concluded that the issues were complex, and needed to be better understood—indeed, that is the case, and is reflected in conversations that I have had with Sony Music and others—and the Government rightly committed to assess different models, including equitable remuneration, to explore how they might affect different parts of the music industry. We need a way to address unfairness without causing unintended consequences, which is why further inquiry is required and why the Bill should go into Committee. In my view, that is the right way forward. The Government proposed to explore the issues through engagement with the music industry contact group and to provide an update on progress.
We need to move forward. As has been highlighted, a report in November showed that Lucian Grainge, chief executive officer and chair of Universal Music Group, earned more this year than composers and lyricists earned in total in 2019 from streaming downloads and sales in the UK. Once again, that brings the issue into sharp relief. I do not agree, the right hon. Member for Maldon will not be surprised to hear, with everything that he said, as there is a fundamental inequity in how the system works. That is at the heart of what we are addressing today.
The status quo cannot continue. Indeed, we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a musician and work in the music industry, and it should be a trailblazer for how the rest of the world can be. The issues that the Bill seeks to address and fix in streaming are vital if we are to secure the reforms to copyright law that will create a fairer system for musicians and new talent to know they will be rewarded fairly. We firmly support Second Reading and I hope, given the consensus across the House that action is needed, that the Government support the Bill and keep their promise to address this injustice. If otherwise, we expect the Minister to pledge urgently to introduce Government legislation. Let this be a day on which everyone in the House sings from the same song sheet, and backs our musicians through a commitment to reform the music industry to leave it fit for purpose for the future.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra). I wish to start by congratulating the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), because in bringing this Bill to the House and having it delivering this level of attention, he has highlighted what an important sector UK music is. I cannot claim to be an ace musician—my piano lessons in secondary school led only to headaches for my parents—but I have spent some 20 years working in music broadcasting. During that time, I was part of the industry working group that negotiated with music rights holders, including PPL, the Performing Right Society and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, to secure permission to use recorded music on commercial radio. So I am aware of the relationship of businesses that build success on the back of playing recorded music, and I see the need for rights holders to be paid a fair settlement for their work.
I wish to step back a little and pay a brief tribute to the UK music sector. Everyone in this House should be incredibly proud of British music and the contribution it makes to not only our wellbeing, but our economy. For us in this country, British music is the soundtrack to our lives, but that is true around the world, too. UK recording artists feature on radio stations and streaming platforms around the globe every second of every day, and that has not come about because we have legislated to promote our great music. It is worth noting that some countries, such as France, do legislate to ensure that their broadcasters play French music, because they want to give it an unfair advantage. We, though, maintain an interest in supporting brilliant talent. UK music’s success has come about because we allow creativity to flourish, we invest, we nurture talent and we have the advantage of the English language. Above all, we have incredible songwriters, great musicians and brilliant performers who deliver what an engaged audience wants to listen to.
Let me just set out one or two figures that demonstrate that. The UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019, which was an 11% increase on the prior year. Employment in the industry hit an all-time high in 2019, at 197,000 people, which was an increase of 3% on the prior year. That is not just people playing instruments and singing songs; we are talking about songwriters, producers, artists’ managers, publishers, the people in recording studios, musicians, promoters, crew, and those in record labels and collective management organisations. They are all part of an industry that supports almost 200,000 jobs, which are critical to UK plc. The total export revenue of the music industry was £2.9 billion in 2019, which was an increase of about 9% on the prior year. This is such an important sector, and it is so crucial that we treat it with care when we consider legislation.
My hon. Friend is making an extremely powerful speech outlining the importance of the music industry to our economy. Will he acknowledge that it is also a vital part of our tourism attraction, bringing in about £4.7 billion in tourism revenue for this country every year?
I thank my hon. Friend for that, as he pre-empted exactly what I was going to say next. We are talking about £4.7 billion of spending in the UK economy, which was an increase of 6% of the prior year. UK music tourism is crucial, and it is so important that we have live performances back in concert venues, pubs and locations across the UK. Our music industry is a critical national asset. It makes us feel good. It enriches our lives with tunes that get into our head and make us tap our feet, and it really does set the mood for the nation. What we do in legislation in this space could have profound implications.
What my hon. Friend has just said is so important. The music industry contributes to not only tourism and the economy, but the culture of this country. So if we rush into legislation without making sure we have engaged with every possible partner and every possible organisation, we could get it wrong and therefore have dramatically bad effects for everyone. We need to support our artists—I am very supportive of the principles of the Bill—but we have got to get it right.
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. We have to accept that we are talking about a global industry, and it is possible today to pick up a business and locate it anywhere in the world. If we make legislation in this country that makes it difficult to do business, we will see global businesses deciding to go and locate in other countries. My right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) mentioned K-pop, and we should be very aware of what is going on in Asia. It is easy for international businesses to identify different markets, build on those phenomena and generate significant revenues from elsewhere in the world.
The developments we have seen over the last 20 years, from music lovers being able to walk into Our Price or HMV and buy a CD to a model where they can have any sort of music instantly available on their phone simply by saying the name into a smart speaker, have changed the game completely and in a way that most of us could not have imagined 20 years ago.
This private Member’s Bill follows on from Parliament’s inquiry into the economics of streaming. At a base level, it seeks to alter the artist-label relationship through copyright law reforms to rights ownership and how revenue stemming from an artist’s recording is shared out. Actually, the way in which streaming moneys are split between an artist and the label or distributor they work with on their recordings is entirely dependent on how each individual record and distribution deal is reached. The artist could receive anything from a few per cent. to 100% of the money they generate. That is based on the contract they sign when they enter into business.
Although the Bill raises some critical issues—I support action on many of the themes that have arisen in today’s era of streaming—some unintended consequences may arise from it. Those need to be discussed because, although I want to see change, I also want to ensure that future generations of British artists receive the investment that they deserve. On the back of the Select Committee inquiry, the Government are already working with the sector to assess the market for all stakeholders through the Competition and Markets Authority, the IPO and DCMS, and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say shortly.
We need to have a data-driven and evidence-based approach to such a complex and important issue. The arguments that underpin the Bill are emotionally compelling, but I am afraid that they incorrectly play on the David versus Goliath narrative. I have seen headlines saying that artists are not earning from streaming, but streaming has actually provided artists with greater success than the CD era. The shares of label revenue that artists receive are higher than they were in the past. Artist remuneration has risen to 46% of overall revenue, compared with an increase in label revenues of 31%, meaning that artists are claiming a larger share of streaming revenue than they have done traditionally.
Other terms have also improved in the artist’s favour, including sharing equity in streaming services, digital breakage and writing off unrecouped balances, as well as royalty rates increasing. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart)—I want to refer to him as the hon. Member for Runrig—said that one of the challenges he faced was that his unrecouped revenues were never reached, so he never earned any money. Artists are talking action on that, and I am pleased that they are being listened to.
A study of musicians’ pay by the IPO showed that between 2008 and 2019 artists and composers have seen their earnings rise faster than those of record labels. The intentions behind the Bill do not reflect those advances, and are not supported by the robust data and evidence delivered by independent academics in the IPO’s recent report.
The set of legislative proposals included in the Bill, although well intentioned, could actually harm the very model that has underpinned the industry’s renaissance. The focus needs to be on securing better deals with streaming companies. I was really struck by the comments of the former CEO of EMI Records, Tony Wadsworth, who suggested that if Bill were passed today,
“these proposals would create huge uncertainty, a mountain of red tape and make the U.K. a terrible place for investment in music.”
We do need to do something, but that something needs support from across the sector. I would argue that we need to see the outcome of the investigations by the CMA before any changes in the Bill are actually brought into force.
In business, and particularly in the music business, I am afraid that we see a need for instant gratification and success, and music labels are the only players that can tackle that. Their long game is what is really critical. We need to take their views seriously and recognise their concerns about this Bill. Successful artists from the 1980s funded investment into new artists in the 1990s, which in turn funded investment into the young artists of the 2000s. Artists such as the Pet Shop Boys, Radiohead, Robbie Williams, Coldplay and many others were supported by that investment in their early years, and that music ecosystem will continue to support music artists in the future.
Labels will continue to invest huge amounts each year in emerging talent through artists and repertoire, the music industry’s equivalent of research and development. My right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) indicated earlier that the amount of money being spent could be cut. I suggest to her that if we look at the music business around the world, 30% R&D is what is happening in all markets. I am afraid I do not see that changing any time soon, because if businesses could find a way to reduce that, I think they would; it would be an incentive to businesses to be able to reduce it at an early stage.
However, there is no denying that the new cast of characters in the market, such as Spotify, Apple Music and content platforms such as YouTube, have changed the game. When physical sales were king, the top 10 artists were twice as dominant in earnings terms as they are now. With streaming, considerably more new talent can build up a real fan base, while popular established acts are able to find new audiences and become timeless.
I am not suggesting there is nothing to fix. Music is being devalued and musicians’ earnings are being impacted. Ad-funded streaming services are not paying fairly for the music that drives their business, and that is an issue we should absolutely tackle. YouTube accounted for more than 20% of streaming consumption in the UK last year, but generated only £35 million in royalties, £20 million less than artists and labels earned from good old-fashioned vinyl records. The question we should really ask is how such services can get away with paying so little.
The market is by no means perfect but, unlike the giants of free content, subscription-based streaming services enable more artists to share in the money they make from music. In my view, the contemporary music landscape is much wider, and I fear the Bill will harm chances for newer and more diverse artists and businesses that have either escaped the old-world paradigm, or grown up in the newer, more open ecosystem in which many businesses flourish today.
I turn briefly to the term “equitable remuneration”, which is often used. I make no bones about this: I am afraid equitable remuneration will not mean fair payment in the sense that it is commonly understood. I have heard a number of hon. Members on the Opposition Benches talking about fair pay for a fair day’s work. I am afraid equitable remuneration will not deliver that in the sense that they perhaps believe it will.
Analysis by the Association of Independent Music suggests that applying ER to streaming will not address income inequality in music. In fact, the top 1% will get richer at everybody else’s expense. There is an argument that ER favours the old world over the new, or artists who have had success in the CD era and before over the new generations of diverse creators and entrepreneurs who are succeeding in the digital age. I want to see all artists rewarded fairly, but we need to create that environment when we have all the information to do so.
The industry would not know whether it would have 70 years or 20 years in which to recoup its investments if the Bill moved forward, because of the flexibility it would allow for contracts to be terminated. That would have a major influence on how much labels would be able to invest in new signings, new recordings and marketing, and on the terms they would offer in new deals.
As the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) said earlier, there are some practical problems for multiple performers, where revocation by a single performer would prevent continued commercialisation of a record. I recognise that when she responded to my question, she said there was much more to look into in that particular area, and I suggest that that is a real-world problem that the Bill does not necessarily address.
As I said earlier, I believe we need to see changes to fairly reward artists and grow the music sector in the most effective way to benefit artists. The UK is the second biggest exporter of recorded music in the world—one in 10 songs streamed globally is by a British artist—but I am afraid that the Bill would put that model at risk. The legislation would seek to only hasten the decline if large labels decided to invest more in overseas territories than in the UK. On that basis, I urge the Minister and DCMS to do more work before we take the Bill forward.
Mr Deputy Speaker, being from the land of song, as I am, I am sure that you would have enjoyed the reception last night that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) hosted with musicians. We heard the beautiful voice of Sarah Angel and many up-and-coming and existing artists and musicians were there. Being from Swansea, I know many up-and-coming artists there too. The important point that is coming across is that although some of them have been successful in the past, they look to the future with fear.
The up-and-coming ones are saying, “Hold on, if I get 1 million streams, I’ll get £100—but what about the cost of my travel, the studio or having lunch? Maybe there’ll be musicians with me, or maybe I’ll co-produce or co-write a song, so I’ll get just half that, but I still have to pay those costs. It doesn’t work.” We have just gone through an appalling pandemic, so people in the music industry who are atomised freelancers and self-employed have not been able to enjoy the fruits of live gigs. Instead, they have depended on the meagre crumbs off the table of the industry to survive with great difficulty.
We have heard about Spotify and other platforms such as Apple, Amazon and Google, and how marvellous it is that we can carry the world’s music in our pockets. That is true, but most people probably consume the equivalent of only 12 albums a year on their Spotify account and just play their favourite music again and again. If those had been 12 CD sales instead, the artists would have got much more. We are in a situation where, although we have great scope for choice, that choice is not exercised. It is important that artists get their fair share to nourish them for the future.
I know that the hon. Gentleman will have read the IPO’s report, so he will have seen the chart showing that at the end of 2015, about 16,000 artists made up 90% of Spotify’s streams. By the second quarter of last year, that number had gone up to 43,000, so the market is much more fragmented. That extra choice is great for consumers, but it means that the income is being shared by far more artists than ever before.
I will come to the right hon. Gentleman in a moment, because no doubt he will want to remind us how reasonable it is that the CEO of Universal gets £153 million a year, which is more than the entirety of sales and of streaming for all UK artists and songwriters, including people such as Ed Sheeran. To get that from streaming, as I mentioned, he would have to have 1.5 million million streams. Despite the claims that he does play a musical instrument, I doubt that he could create that. On that point, I give way.
The hon. Gentleman makes a great deal of how little an artist receives for 1 million streams, but in fact, 1 billion streams is not that much. To give an example, Mabel, one of our most successful up-and-coming artists achieved more than 4 billion streams. The income from 1 million streams is equivalent to the income from 1,000 CD sales. CDs do not cost a huge amount, which is why many artists do not receive a great deal of income, because they are not being listened to in the quantity that generates the large incomes that successful artists enjoy.
The point I was making is that the share that is given to up-and-coming musicians is not enough. The right hon. Gentleman may claim that 1 million streams is not very much, but I would very much enjoy a small fraction of that for this speech anywhere it was shown. It is a lot for a musician to break through that million mark. I appreciate that, in the global marketplace, there are stars who break through into the billions, but that is not the point. The point is that we in Britain should be nurturing our young people to come forward as composers, artists, performers and song writers. If they are going to have the facility to invest in their own skills, equipment and song writing, and if we are to have a situation where we have a broad diversity of people and the future music industry is not completely reliant on people with rich parents, we need to give due reward on streaming to those people who will create the joy and music of the future.
There are new opportunities—TikTok, YouTube and so on—that did not exist in the past for people to express themselves; it is not the case that someone cannot possibly achieve everything without a label and therefore they need this immense amount of money. As was briefly mentioned, the managing director of Universal does not pay British tax, but in addition, the way the finances are managed is such that some artists are paid in dollars and the Exchequer here does not see the fruits of British production, which we should enjoy as well as the artist having their due rewards.
The fact is that music is integral to Britain’s identity here and abroad, whether we go back to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Annie Lennox or look at what we have now in Adele, One Direction or whatever. The point has been made already about the hundreds of thousands of people in the industry and its importance for the export and tourism markets. I think we are duty bound to feed the people who are the creative engines of that success, and not to allow it to be sapped away through blood-sucking multinational corporations that hide the tax and keep the revenue and exercise market abuse and dominance in an atomised market of well-meaning people who, in their younger years, often sign contracts without the privilege of a huge legal team behind them to give them cover, so if they are fortunate in being successful, they find they are ripped off by these big labels and then are unable to go back and look at that contract again. Many of those contracts, of course, contain non-disclosure agreements, so we do not really know what is happening.
In a nutshell, we are talking about an industry of a collective of people who provide joy, happiness and exhilaration for the globe as well as Britain, and they have done so particularly during the pandemic, which has been so valuable for people’s mental health. It is important that those artists also have remuneration into the future; they should be able to plan for their retirement. I therefore agree that there should be a cut-off clause for contracts.
The Bill should progress to Committee stage. There has been a lot of debate, and that is a reason for it to be considered in Committee. It is all very well saying the issue should go to the Competition and Markets Authority. It should have gone to that authority; this is clearly an oligopolistic abuse. There is a case, of course, for artists to form themselves into a co-operative situation. It would be good if there were alternative forms of retail, through a sort of “good” music brand, so that we could move forward.
This is a first step that we should not resist because we are bombarded by the vested interests of the massive labels, which make billions of pounds while our people, who we want to nurture, are not getting a fair deal. We do not want these springs of creativity to dry up, so we need to move forward now and, in parallel with that, we need to look at the market abuse. We must continue on an iterative basis to improve the lot of up-and-coming and existing people in this great music industry of ours, hold our head up high and get back to the global No. 1 in the charts.
It is a great pleasure to be here today. Is not this a wonderful example of what Fridays are for—a proper cross-party debate that tackles a serious issue? I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) and the Select Committee for their substantial report in the summer; I assure them that I and officials in DCMS and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have read it carefully. Indeed, it is because of that report that we are having this debate today.
I pay tribute to all colleagues who have spoken so far. I know that more want to speak, but I wanted to take this opportunity to set out the headlines of the Government’s response for Opposition Members before they decide to respond. I cannot pay tribute to everyone who has spoken, but I particularly want to mention: my right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale), who is a former DCMS Secretary and was a distinguished Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, whose comments were important and well noted; and my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (Andy Carter), who demonstrated his experience in the industry. I also thank a whole range of voices to which I have been listening carefully. The tone of the debate has been extremely welcome, and I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cardiff West for bringing the debate to the House in that way, with this level of cross-party engagement. It is all to the good and this is what the public expect us to do on a Friday in private Members’ business: come together and tackle key issues.
I am responding on behalf of the Government as Minister for Innovation at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Minister for copyright and intellectual property, which is what the Bill before us actually amends in law. I am here as a member of a Government who are taking this issue seriously, especially through my Department working closely with DCMS.
One of my primary responsibilities is for innovation across Government, so I want to put this issue in the context of the broader opportunity for digital innovation in the economy, including through the deep digital technologies of AI, quantum and such technologies, which I am looking to support through our science and innovation budget. We should also look at this issue with reference to the role of important digital clusters—the gaming community and others—that are driving innovation in medical technologies and a whole range of other parts of our digital economy. Indeed, earlier this summer, I took the Big Tent Foundation to Coventry, where we were joined by the Secretary of State for BEIS, to celebrate the work of the often unseen digital entrepreneurs in the gaming cluster, who are not often seen in the newspapers, but who are driving huge investment, innovation, and opportunity for people to engage in the digital economy.
It was for that reason that yesterday at the levelling-up Cabinet committee, we had a long conversation about the importance of the digital creative sector in supporting opportunities around the economy. Many of our now most celebrated digital and technology clusters started with strong cultural, artistic and musical elements. In fact, silicon valley started in the ’60s as a home for non-conformist, free-thinking, fresh-thinking entrepreneurs, before the term was really widely understood. It was the lifestyle, the surfing and the music that laid the foundations for what is now the world’s greatest technology cluster. Similarly, in Cornwall we are seeing the merger of lifestyle and recreation tech entrepreneurs linked to surfing and music. Music is not just in a silo.
I am also here in a personal capacity. My family has substantial interests in the industry, although I am not declaring commercial interests, as I have none myself. My brother works in the film industry, where people are better paid. It is a bit feast or famine. When there is a film, people tend to get paid pretty well, and between films it is a bit famine-ish—but they are paid well in general. My wife is a theatre director. People in theatre are paid rather less well than in film, although many of them sometimes work in films, if they are lucky.
In our house, we have a lodger who is a family friend. He is a nocturnal entrepreneur —I see him only at the beginning and end of the day—and I asked him the other day, “What are you doing upstairs?”. He is a digital music entrepreneur, making music at night. I asked him how the streaming sector is working. His response was very interesting and I want to share it with the House, as he said: “If it wasn’t for Spotify, no one would know me. I’m using the streaming platform to get noticed. I don’t make any money out of it, but what happens is that people then pick me up on TikTok, they pick me up on Instagram, they then reach out and message me.” He said, “I’m now selling cassettes”, at which point I looked at him! I am old enough to have had a collection of cassettes—indeed, when I bought my last car but one I was worried that there was not a cassette player and what I was going to do with my old cassettes. Then I had the same problem with my CDs. I looked at my lodger and said, “Cassettes?” and he said yes. As colleagues around the House more knowledgeable than me have highlighted, there is now a huge market in cassettes, as indeed there is in the renaissance of vinyl.
My lodger has used the streaming sector to create a footprint for himself, but of course what he really wants to be able to do is fill venues. When I asked, “Could you fill a venue here in London?” he said, “I could half-fill one in London, but I could fill 10 venues in Los Angeles.” I think that speaks volumes about the level of global digital entrepreneurial activity going on in this country—of course, the pandemic has robbed many of our musical artists of those venue-related, event-related incomes—and highlights a lot of the issues that the Select Committee has rightly brought to the fore about the impact of the level of digitalisation in the music industry.
My headline message is that we in Government want to view this area as a creative industries ecosystem, and make sure that Britain is the best place in the world for musicians to practise, innovate and create, recognising that we are in an incredibly competitive global environment; nobody wants to pass a well-intended law that inadvertently undermines the UK’s position as a leading centre. In this debate, we need to think about the artists—in this case, the musicians—and the labels and the platforms, as well as the relationships among those three in creating a functioning, vibrant, innovative and, indeed, profitable ecosystem in which revenues are distributed fairly and in a way that leads to UK leadership.
My commitment, on behalf of the Government, is that we will take this moment, with the report and this very well presented Bill, to do what many in the House have urged us to do, which is to look quickly—not to delay, but to look quickly—at all of the issues and the impacts, and make sure that we frame a Government response that does not just deal with the immediate issue today, but means that our successors in this House in 10 or 20 years’ time say that this Parliament got it right and tackled it in the right way.
That is really about, yes, fairness. Fairness is an important word, and I think an important value that most people listening to this debate, who may not understand the complexities—and, boy, there are many—of the modern digital music streaming ecosystem, understand. People understand that fairness does not mean everybody being paid the same amount every day, which tends to lead to a communist society in which very little is to be distributed. Fairness means that people are rewarded properly and appropriately for their part in an ecosystem, reflecting the role of others and of competition. It is also about making sure that the UK remains a powerhouse in the global digital ecosystem, and in particular that our musicians, on which this Bill focuses, are properly rewarded.
I want to highlight that “musician” is one word but covers a multitude of different people—singers, bands, DJs, instrumentalists, non-featured artists, session musicians, backing singers, lyricists and composers. There is a huge range of people, and before we legislate we just need to be cognisant that we will be legislating to shape their lifestyles and their livelihoods. It is part of my responsibility as a Minister to make sure that we listen to all of them, even those who are not so noisy, and make sure that, before we change the law, we are cognisant of any unintended side effects. We need to make sure that all musicians are benefiting from the UK legal framework, and not just be pushed by one group without being cognisant of the effects on others.
I also want to highlight—indeed, I did not know this before preparing in the last two or three weeks for this debate—how musicians actually make their money. If we look at the data, we see that, at 31%, live performance is the main revenue stream. That has of course been hit very hard by the pandemic, which is what has brought this issue to the fore. Then there is teaching of music at 9%, audio streaming royalties at 6%, physical sales at 5%, digital sales at 5%, sessional orchestral work at 5%, broadcasts at 5%, public performances at 4%, commissions for stage at 3%, merchandise at 3%, video streaming royalties at 3%, and a whole raft of others. The truth is that there are multiple revenue streams for most musicians, and some of course only receive some of those, but we need to be cognisant of the broader musician revenue stream, and indeed of how complex it is, before we legislate.
When a song is streamed on a service such as Spotify, revenue from that stream flows through a streaming value chain that has taken shape in the past few years. At the start, the streaming service takes its cut, which is typically around 30%, although there is no industry standard, and the rest is split among all the other parties back down the supply chain. People’s ability to negotiate depends, of course, on their strength in the market. I dare say that if I produced a piece of music, my negotiating power in the market would be very weak, whereas the band led by colleagues here in the House have established that they have an audience and a market. I pay tribute to their work in not only using those revenues to support charities but in highlighting issues in the House.
It is and should be a competitive market. I think we would all accept, as people who make their living on their feet, speaking to issues, that if we went to Hyde Park corner, some of us would attract bigger audiences than others. I do not think we would pass a Bill that compelled the public to listen to us all for the same amount of time with the same level of interest. We cannot legislate for that and we all know that. We do, though, want to make sure that successful artists who generate quality music are rewarded properly.
We accept that there is a problem and we accept the fundamental case made by the Select Committee. We have already started by launching the Competition and Markets Authority. The industry is very vertical, if I can put it that way, and we want to make sure that the revenues flow fairly and there is no anti-competitive practice. We are also looking, through the Intellectual Property Office, at how other countries have done it: there have been a number of reforms around the world and we want to be sure that we have collected the data on any reforms that have worked positively for musicians across the board and on those that have had negative effects.
In the past two weeks, I have had extensive meetings with the hon. Member for Cardiff West, in a positive spirit, and with colleagues on the Government Benches, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey), and around 40 or 50 other colleagues who have taken interest. I have also taken the time to meet people in the industry.
Before colleagues decide how they wish to proceed, they should know that views are very mixed. I have had 50 submissions this week that I was reading late last night. The Association of Independent Music accepts the Select Committee’s case that there is a problem, but does not accept that
“the solutions this Bill proposes will lead to the outcomes its supporters hope for—and the Bill risks damaging independent music”
“the UK a less attractive place to invest and record”.
The British Phonographic Industry said:
“The Bill is premature in rushing to a legislative solution before the market impact…has been properly explored”.
We have had submissions from a huge range of hugely creatively and entrepreneurial UK labels. I will not even begin to read out the whole list, but I have here a letter with at least 20 logos on it. In November, a group of them wrote to the Prime Minister: “We are writing as a group of British independent record labels concerned about the unintended impact”—I do not think anybody has any doubt about the intent behind the Bill or, indeed, the Select Committee’s work behind it—“on our industry of the copyright Bill that is due to be debated in the House”. They urged us not to accept the Bill quickly as it is written but to take it as a spur, as the hon. Member for Cardiff West himself urged, to do the necessary research.
Jeepster Recordings, which is based in Hackney, wrote to the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) to say:
“I am writing to you from Jeepster Recordings in Stoke Newington. We are an independent record company based in your constituency. We began in 1996 and have a very small creatively successful back catalogue which includes the early Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol albums…We have deep concerns about the impact of this Bill on the future of our business and feel that there are parts of it that, if approved, will destroy a business we have managed to keep going for 26 years…As with a lot of small labels, we invested a large amount of money in our artists and struggled as a company at a financial loss for several years whilst promoting them in a market skewed in favour of the major labels”,
which is the point that the Bill seeks to tackle.
We are keen to make sure that we get this right and pass a piece of legislation, if that is what it takes, or work with the Competition and Markets Authority to put in place the right measures to make sure that the industry—the labels—respond in the right way. Ultimately, before the long and slow process of legislation, we would like to find an industry solution, if we can, which is why we have brought together a series of working groups with industry to start to put feet to the fire and ask some hard questions about what they are doing to make sure that we properly remunerate artists.
There is huge interest and real concern across the House about getting this right. Often the House comes together like this on an issue, but then somehow in the Government it goes into the sidings. Can the Minister reassure all colleagues across the House who want to see action that he and the Government are committed to taking it forward energetically?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, a distinguished Back Bencher and former Minister, for raising that point. I myself have had private Members’ Bills, including ten-minute rule Bills, adopted by the Government; I have withdrawn them on the basis of an undertaking from the Minister. I have spoken to the hon. Member for Cardiff West, and obviously I understand that he wants to make his point, but I ask politely at the Dispatch Box, for the record, whether he might be prepared to withdraw the Bill today, work with me on tackling the measures in it, and bring it back in due course if he feels that the measures that I have put in place are inappropriate.
I thank the Minister for the approach that he is taking. We have discussed the matter before, but I think that it is important for the Bill to have at least a chance to proceed into Committee. This is a long process, as he says, and the Government control the timetable, so my view is that the Bill is a bus that he could reupholster along the road to make it fit for purpose so we can all agree on it, and that the House should have the opportunity to express its opinion. I know that he understands that.
I totally understand that the House will want to have a chance to express its opinion. The hon. Gentleman knows well that the private Member’s Bill process is not an ideal process for us to do the work we need to do in government. We have launched the Competition and Markets Authority work and we have a series of workstreams that I will describe in a moment. I would like to think that over the next few months—
I appreciate the positive narrative that the Minister is giving to the Bill, but I am very concerned about what he said about Spotify and by the sense that Spotify offering exposure to musicians ought to be enough so that they can go and make their money elsewhere. Surely there should be a real commitment that there will be a fair relationship and these major, powerful organisations will offer more than just exposure.
As I think the record will show, I was not actually suggesting that that in itself is always enough; I was just making the point that Spotify and other streaming services have provided a platform for many artists who would not otherwise have had a chance to acquire any following. The hon. Gentleman is right that we need to ensure that revenues are flowing fairly, which is why we have launched the Competition and Markets Authority work. The Intellectual Property Office in my Department is looking at other countries and we have set up a number of taskforces, which I will describe.
Before the House decides whether to force the question whether the Bill will proceed, I want to answer the point about our commitment.
Concern has been expressed on both sides of the House about the value gap issue, which relates particularly to YouTube versus some other streaming services. In its response to the Select Committee, the CMA said that while it recognises that issue, at the moment it does not think that it should fall within the measures that it takes through the digital markets unit. Will the Government’s examination take into account concerns about the value gap and the proportion that is being taken by the platforms?
I am delighted to give that undertaking. My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. We will be looking not only at the CMA’s specific remit on competition, markets and anti-competitive practices, but more broadly at the value chain. We need to make sure that there is a proper ecosystem; not everyone will be able to get equal remuneration, but we want to make sure that the market is working and is fair. Yes, we will be looking at that.
Yes, I was just coming to that. We have already started work through the CMA, the Intellectual Property Office and the taskforces that I will describe in more detail in a moment. The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have agreed that we want to get information back within a matter of months and come back to set out the Government’s proposals within a matter of months. We aim to come back with a substantive response in the summer—certainly no later than September. It slightly depends on what we hear, but if we can avoid legislation and solve the problem in some other way, that will be our first instinct. Indeed, I want to make it clear that if we conclude that legislative change is the only way to achieve what the House is looking for, that is very much open to us. However, our instinct is not to rush to introduce a private Member’s Bill to solve the problem, however well intended the measure, but to do the work and come back quickly to the House with a set of proposals. If that suggests that we need to make legislative changes, we are open to doing that.
I shall begin to set out the specifics of that work and what we are doing, and make it clear that the point about fairness that has been made by colleagues across the House sits at the heart of that. We want a fair streaming environment in which the UK music industry can thrive and artists are properly rewarded. Fairness is a broad concept, and one to which we can all sign up, but it has many different aspects in this complicated industry. The Bill proposes a number of specific measures aimed at making the streaming environment fair, which we think is a laudable aim, but it is simply not yet clear that the impact of all those measures has been fully assessed or whether there are others that do not require legislation but which might have a similar impact. We have not ruled out legislation to introduce any of the measures in the Bill or indeed others, should our work suggest them, but we are concerned that interventions such as this made at pace could have—and, indeed, we think would have—significant consequences across the industry, as the correspondence that I have flagged has indicated. We do not want to cause a crisis of confidence in the UK digital music sector, and cause a disinvestment, creating a bigger problem by moving too hastily without taking the chance to listen to all those who have a stake.
We have to get this right in a complex ecosystem and supply chain. The first step is to gather proper evidence from all of those who have concerns before deciding what Government action we will take. If the hon. Member for Cardiff West, a distinguished former Minister, was in my shoes he would be saying something very similar. To that end, we have commissioned research, as I say, into a number of measures from the Competition and Markets Authority and the Intellectual Property Office, and we are liaising with industry stakeholders. We want to work closely with industry and, as it is watching this debate closely, I wish to make it clear that we think that there is a problem. We want to make sure that we get it right, and we want to work with it to get the right measures in place. We would prefer that not to be legislative, but if we cannot find a solution with the industry we hold open that opportunity. We are not saying today that we will not legislate—we will if that is the right thing to do.
In spring this year, we will consider all the evidence that we receive and will think through how we need to respond. That will include consideration of measures on all the elements in the Bill: equitable remuneration, contract adjustment and the right to recapture works, as well as other possible market interventions. I want to make it clear that I am working closely with the Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure and, indeed, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who is a distinguished author and has a strong understanding of the issues of royalties, as well as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Our aim is simply to ensure that the UK is the best place in the world for musicians to come and practise and find audiences globally, and to harness the benefits of digitalisation, because we have created an ecosystem that is fair, innovative and competitive, both for individual artists and for the UK. To do that, we think that it is right to consider these issues sensibly and properly, as one would expect a Government to do.
This week, I have spoken to about 40 colleagues, and I have probably heard another 40 today. It is great to hear from colleagues from all parts of the House. Even the Scottish nationalists have paid tribute to the Government’s listening on this, which is a nice thing to hear. I attended the Government’s music stakeholder contact group on Wednesday, and heard the views of 11 stakeholders. I am grateful to them and to others who have contacted us this week with their thoughts. I have had a constructive meeting with the hon. Member for Cardiff West, who—I want to pay tribute to him again—is a passionate advocate. We would not be having this debate if it were not for him and colleagues on the Select Committee.
Interestingly, today is the birthday of Ozzy Osbourne, the former lead singer of Black Sabbath, who, through the power of music, overcame learning disabilities and a difficult upbringing to become one of rock’s elder statesmen. That speaks to the power of music, not just to give us all joy but to create opportunities for people who might otherwise struggle. Today is also the anniversary of the release in 1984 of Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas?”. It is a day that I will never forget, because I played football for 24 hours, listening to that one track. It is ingrained in the very DNA of my subconscious as a result.
This is a good day. I also reflect that this is not the first time that the House has considered the issue. I am old enough to recall Tim, now Lord, Clement-Jones’s Live Music Bill in another place, testing parliamentary support on more than one occasion before the then Government were evidentially satisfied that they could support a version of the Bill becoming the landmark Live Music Act 2012. It is worth recognising that we are not the first group of parliamentarians to consider this issue, but the pandemic has revealed the urgency of our dealing with it. That is why I have given the response that I have. Let me be clear that the Government do not rule out legislation; we are just not prepared to rush to adopt a private Member’s Bill without working with all stakeholders, including the hon. Member for Cardiff West. He may want to force a vote, but I hope that he hears my commitment in good faith to work downstream.
The key is evidence-based policy making—and, Mr Deputy Speaker, you would not expect me, as a science Minister, to believe in anything else. These are far-reaching measures for which the Government must build the evidence base so that we are satisfied that what we propose is right. It is also so that, in terms of transparency, people around the country can see that we have listened to all the stakeholders and taken a balanced view. To intervene now without first doing that would be rash.
The UK music industry is, as many colleagues have said, at the heart of our arts and culture sectors and, from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones and from Ed Sheeran to Stormzy, it is the envy of the world. There are also a whole lot of names who I had not even heard of but who have huge digital followings around the world. It is hard to overestimate the value of the sector.
I will share some statistics that are worth thinking about. In 2018-19—pre-covid—the UK music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy, up 11% from 2018. That suggests that the industry is in pretty rude health: it is growing and expanding. In 2019, pre-pandemic —this is quite interesting—the median reported income for musicians currently signed to major record companies was £51,000, for musicians signed to independent record labels it was £20,000, and for self-releasing artists it was £13,000.
The challenge that we all face is how we ensure that we create an ecosystem in which those hitherto unknown, often young—but not always young—independent breakthrough artists get the benefits of digitalisation and streaming to help them generate revenue in myriad ways. Sadly, the “Music creators’ earnings in the digital era” report found no evidence that there was ever a time when recorded music was the basis of substantial income for most musicians, even in the 1990s when revenues in the music industry were higher. It is difficult to compare the number of musicians who can earn a living from recorded music in the streaming era with the download or CD eras—let alone the tape era—because of the difficulties in assessing data.
One commitment I want to make to the House today is that we are looking to collect data both in the UK and internationally so that we can make policy on the basis of actual fact about the impact of reforms around the world. Of course, the Americans made reforms recently, and there have been others in other parts of the world. A key part of this dynamic sector is independent labels such as Rough Trade, Domino and Beggars Banquet—there are so many that I could not list them all, and I do not intend to. We want to continue to support them, and when they write to say that they are worried that the Bill—well intended though it is—will undermine them, we are concerned. [Interruption.] I thought that an hon. Member wanted to intervene.
Let me turn to the level of Government support for the sector.
Before I put the question, I would like to say that I am delighted to learn that it is Ozzy Osbourne’s birthday as my late brother Barry Evans worked on one of his American tours.
Question put forthwith, That the Question be now put.
I am conscious that time is short, and I know that there are colleagues who still want to speak. Let me just spin through the key points that I have not yet made.
First, let me highlight the level of the Government’s support for the creative industries sector, and particularly our musicians. We have set out the creative industries sector deal, the creative sector tax reliefs, the film and television production restart scheme and the culture recovery fund, and the Chancellor’s plan for growth sets out a major long-term commitment to the sector, which we calculate contributes approximately £116 billion to the UK economy. At the recent Budget the Government announced £42 million to support our creative industries, and we include in that the small and medium-sized enterprises at the heart of film, music and video games—that broader nexus of digital entrepreneurship.
I want to touch on the impact of the pandemic, which as the Select Committee highlighted has really brought the issue of the very vertical nature of digital revenues to the fore, because musicians have not been able to have the venue events they would have had before. I make the wider point that the urgency of getting through this pandemic and defeating it is key to no one more than to our musicians. It is a joy to get back to listening to some live music, and long may that continue.
Looking at the impact of covid, for the most part, the recorded music industry stood up reasonably well during 2020. The BPI reported revenues from streaming growing to almost £737 million in 2020, which is a 15% increase during the pandemic, with smartphones, smart speakers and music streaming services providing unprecedented choice for consumers. I will not list all the music that I ended up listening to throughout the pandemic—the House has got better things to do than listen to my music tastes. However, when I listen to Bob Dylan on Spotify, it says, “If you like that, you’ll like this”, and I found myself discovering—I have pretty predictable music tastes—a whole range of artists I had never heard of, and listening to them. That highlights to me the role of digital streaming platforms, notwithstanding the need for equitable distribution, in highlighting artists who I would certainly never have heard of.
The Government are providing a whole series of support for the benefit of musicians: employment schemes, grants, loans, a reduction in VAT to 5%, business rates relief, and the extension of the moratorium on commercial evictions for business tenants, but before the hon. Member for Cardiff West makes it for me, I accept the point that many musicians at the bottom of the supply chain are not earning enough to qualify for tax in the first place.
Sector-specific relief included the culture recovery fund. That was the biggest arts funding package in our history, and the Chancellor made available £2 billion at speed, with awards to more than 800 music-based organisations. That helped to stop more than 130 of our most loved and enduring grassroots music venues having to close their doors. We also put in place the £800 million reinsurance scheme and I am delighted, as I am sure all Members are, that we can get back to live music venues, and indeed to live theatre and pub theatre. One-man and one-woman shows, or shows with a small cast, that are totally covid compliant have been a joy, and one of the unintended consequences of the ghastly pandemic.
I want to touch quickly on copyright law, to which the Bill makes a series of important reforms that are potentially impactful on everybody affected. We in the UK are proud of our copyright law, and no one more than the Minister responsible for copyright. Our 1709 Statute of Anne was the first copyright Act in the world, and today the UK is a world leader in copyright law and intellectual property enforcement. We are determined to continue to explore and modernise that, and I welcome the new chair and chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office, with whom I am working closely to ensure that we keep up with the pace of digitalisation.
In the time available I want to touch on the importance of ensuring that copyright enforcement is properly tackled. We recognise that we are a leader in that at the moment, but the rise of music streaming is a good example of how attractive new services, together with a strong focus on enforcement and education, can transform an industry that has been beset by copyright piracy. We are determined to tackle the problem of piracy, and not just those of us who remember recording “Top of the Pops” on a cassette in the 1970s, which is a low form of that—I would not say it is harmless, but as the former Chair of the Select Committee made clear, probably all of us old enough to do so did it, and it was wrong.
However, the level of industrial piracy going on is far more serious, stealing revenues from our artists. That is why the Government continue to invest in our dedicated Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit—PIPCU—which is the first of its kind in the world. It exists to protect creators and brand owners, and the unit, run by the City of London police, is dedicated to tackling serious and organised online piracy and counterfeiting that affects digital and physical goods. The Government’s upcoming infringement strategy will set out a new framework, allowing us to react more quickly and effectively to today’s challenges.
I want quickly to touch on the rise of streaming, and some of its implications. From the early 2000s, record companies saw a 15-year period of global revenue decline. Recorded music revenues were decimated due to digital piracy, and subscription streaming services such as Spotify—others are available—entered the market in 2008. By 2015, they had played a major part in halting that decline, as consumers began to adopt subscription services and paying for the right to listen to music. In 2015, there were on average 2.1 billion streams a month. By 2020, that figure had grown to 10 billion. As the Select Committee highlighted, the issue is to ensure that the revenues from that flow down. Crucially, however, we are a leader and we are growing in that sector.
The rise of streaming has been a game changer for the business models of many artists. Live performance has become the predominant source of income for many, but not all, artists while recorded music is now often viewed as a key secondary income source. Covid has brought huge challenges, as I have discussed, and the Government have moved fast to support the industry.
I will touch on the taskforces that we have set up to deal with the points in the Bill. We have put the concept of fairness at the heart of our response and we have set up the taskforces to look at three specific issues that the Bill sets out. First, the right of revocation or recapture exists in the United States and means that after 35 years, creators can recover rights that they have contractually licensed to other parties. The argument is that that increases their negotiating leverage.
Secondly, other countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, have a contract adjustment mechanism. Thirdly, we want to look carefully at the recent European Union directive, which does not apply here, to see whether that works and benefits musicians at the grassroots. Evidence from the Netherlands suggests that contract adjustment law may have very little impact in practice. We want to make sure that we are looking at what works and more research is needed to get that right.
My hon. Friend has listed many areas that we will look at in future. Can he assure me and artists in Watford and around the UK that the goals of the Bill to protect artists in the UK, protect the industry around the world and ensure that innovation can continue will be at the heart of the measures that he will put forward in the next few months?
I am delighted to give that assurance. I take the opportunity to thank my hon. Friend as a stalwart advocate of the Watford cluster and as someone who has been at the heart of music and online creativity. He is a tireless advocate for it in his constituency and in this House. The answer is absolutely yes.
I promised to give the House some details on the taskforces. We have commissioned multiple research pieces, including on equitable remuneration, rights reversion and the contract adjustment mechanism. We have established a music industry contact group, which I met this week. In addition, two industry working groups are being convened. One will look at a voluntary code of practice on contract transparency and the other will seek solutions to the data issues that the industry faces. The Government will assess the progress of those two groups.
I know that other hon. Members want to speak, so I will be brief. On the CMA market study, one of the first things I did as Minister was to write to the chief executive of the CMA. In that letter, I outlined my support for the Select Committee’s recommendation and asked the CMA to conduct a market study on streaming, which is under way. I am sure the House will appreciate that I cannot jeopardise its independence by saying here what conclusions it has reached. We will come back and report in due course.
We have also launched a market study into how other markets around the world are working and the lessons from those. In particular, we are looking at the independent advice from academics at the universities of Leeds, Middlesex and Ulster commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office, “Music Creators’ Earnings in the Digital Era”, which deals with a number of the issues that the Bill tackles.
Furthermore, in response to the Select Committee, we have asked the Intellectual Property Office to start gathering information on the potential impact of an equitable remuneration right. We have also commissioned a piece of work from the IPO on copyright reversion and a piece of research on the potential impact of introducing a contract adjustment mechanism, as proposed in the Bill.
I highlight that the EU directive on copyright in the digital single market, which we are not party to, having left the EU, will provide an interesting insight into whether and which measures are effective. Brexit gives us the freedom to learn from others and put in place the world’s best framework in the way that works best for our industry. I think I have made the point that we are deeply committed to stakeholder engagement, but I emphasise that over the coming weeks and months my officials and I want to move quickly, talking to everyone with an interest. I am determined to make that clear, and I ask anyone who is listening to the debate, or reading it, to contact me, and officials, if they have views that they want to be taken up.
We think that the Bill is well intentioned and speaks to a problem whose existence we recognise. Our instincts are to try to solve the problem through an industry-led package of measures that artists and musicians support, and we will be moving quickly to receive evidence and put proposals to the House, but I must make it clear that if we conclude that legislation is required, we will not hesitate to act.
I thank all Members who have spoken today. The debate has been a powerful demonstration of the level of interest across the House, across all parties and in all parts of the country.
I thank the Minister for spending so much time outlining what the Government will do. He mentioned an industry-led solution. What does he consider to be within the scope of the term “industry-led”, and how much of that package would be musician-led and artist-led?
By “industry” I meant the whole industry, including the musicians who are key to it. The hon. Lady can rest assured that we will not just be talking to the record labels or the streaming companies; we will be listening to artists and musicians as well. We are keen to hear from people who have profited from the existing system, and from those who have not. We recognise what my right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale) referred to as the value gap. We want to hear from everyone who is affected by this issue, across the music spectrum, not just the bands that we have heard about but singers, session musicians, and all the other individuals who are affected.
I know that others want to speak—
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is clear that the Government are intent on talking out all the remaining Bills, which is a great shame. My Miscarriage Leave Bill has led to more than 20,000 signatures to a petition calling on the Government to introduce three days’ paid miscarriage leave. It is with all those campaigners and all those affected by miscarriage and pregnancy loss in mind that I wish the Government would listen closely to what I have to say. On behalf of the campaigners and the many other voices across the country, and given the support for the Bill on both sides of the House, I ask the Government to allow it to be considered in more detail at a future date.
I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. As she can see, a number of people wish to speak. This is an important debate, but many of the other Bills on the Order Paper are important as well. As we have seen, there are ways of ensuring that if time is not made available for Bills, progress is sometimes made through discussion between Members and the Government. However, the hon. Lady has certainly made her views known, and they are on the record.
I call the Minister.
It is not for me to respond to the point, Mr Deputy Speaker, although it is an important issue. I am here today to deal with this important issue, which is that of music rights.
Let me end by thanking the Ivors Academy group, who have been key to the support for the hon. Member for Cardiff West. The voice of musicians is vital. The Government are listening, and we are determined to act. We need to act in the right way, and we will do so in the coming weeks and months.
Let me declare at the outset that I am a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee—like the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), with whom I enjoy being on the Committee!
The British music industry is one of this country’s most successful exports. Our singers and bands have brought joy to the world with top-quality songs and albums that have inspired many generations. My parents and grandparents were lucky enough to witness the British invasion when, in the mid-1960s, rock and pop acts of the United Kingdom penetrated the shores of the United States and flooded the music industry. America gave the world rock and roll; we gave them as good as we got. Acts such as The Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, the Searchers, the Hollies, the Animals, the Kinks and so many more have dominated the charts for decades. Their songs still get played today and their enduring musical legacy lives on. A look at social media in the past week shows an almost teen fan obsession with the new Beatles documentary “Get Back”. Screened on Disney Plus, the eight-hour documentary covers the making of the Beatles’ 1970 album “Let It Be”. Critics and commentators gave it rave reviews, and many on social media said watching it made them feel very emotional—and no wonder, really: the Beatles were a uniquely British band with a backstory worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster.
Like most of us in this House and further afield, I love music. It has played a big part in my life, not just personally, but professionally. I have no musical talent to speak of, but for many years before entering the world of politics I worked as a radio presenter, or some might even use the term disc jockey. It is unbelievable that sitting alone in a studio, playing a great selection of songs—sometimes, depending how they were scheduled—and broadcasting to thousands, or hundreds, depending on the size of the radio station, is a job people get paid for. It is not really work.
My musical tastes are wide and varied, with a particular fondness for singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and Alison Krauss, who, as hon. Members will know, are American acts. Closer to home, we cannot go far wrong with Roxy Music or Phil Collins. I love their work—Phil Collins is a genius, from his work with Genesis to his great solo albums of the 1980s and 1990s. It has been great to hear about the musical experience of Members of this House through this debate.
There was a time when supposedly uber-cool critics derided Phil Collins, but his music will stand the test of time, and not fall by the wayside as trends continue to change. Let us reflect that, despite health issues and having to sing from a chair, he still gets rave reviews with Genesis as part of its “The Last Domino?” tour, and rightly so. Phil is the best of British music.
I am a daily user of the streaming platform Spotify, which has been brought up many times in this debate, and I recently discovered its 2021 Wrapped feature, which summarises my music taste over the past year. It would be remiss of me, as a former BBC employee, not to say at this point that other streaming platforms are available. In the Wrapped feature, reviewing my music listening over the past year, Spotify tells me my most listened-to artists, songs and even shows me my musical aura, which uses colour to demonstrate the genres of music I have been listening to. Mine was a mixture of blue, pink and red. I am still not quite sure what that means, but I would not want it as my wallpaper.
Hon. Members should not worry: I will not be revealing my top five songs to the House, out of acute embarrassment. Some radio stations claim to play more music variety, but my Spotify playlist ranges from classical music to Motown, and I do not think it would get much of an audience if it was broadcast.
It is important that we all understand the influence and importance of British music as we turn our attention to what is being debated today. The days of hopping on the bus into town to spend our pocket money on the latest 7-inch single are long gone. We buy and listen to our music in a very different way. With a few notable exceptions, an independent record shop on the high street is sadly now a thing of the past, and there is no more queuing at the music counter of the local Woolies to pick up a copy of the new single climbing the charts.
These days, much more music is purchased online or streamed. This new way of consuming music presents opportunities, but also significant challenges, which have been touched on in the debate. It has a particular impact on many of our modern-day British acts such as Adele, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Stormzy and Coldplay. Our music industry is famous across the world. It creates jobs, puts our country in the spotlight and is a great calling card across the globe for UK plc.
I appreciate that this private Member’s Bill has laudable intentions and is designed to provide a solution regarding how much money artists can earn from streaming, but it needs to be reconsidered. The introduction of so-called equitable remuneration, or ER, would see streaming revenue moved away from the labels and redirected to the artist. Of course, it is in everyone’s interest to see artists paid more, but let us not forget that music labels also take the initial risk in an artist’s career and provide the necessary up-front investment. That should be acknowledged.
Equitable remuneration sounds fair, but what is being proposed will have ramifications that must be carefully considered. There is a temptation to think that every music label is some big corporate beast with millions of pounds sloshing around, but that is simply not the case. Some music fans may recall some of the small independent British labels of the past, such as Factory Records, Stiff Records and Creation Records. Modern-day equivalents would find ER damaging, as there would be much less money available to spend on developing new talent, not to mention the additional bureaucracy.
The danger with ER is that it could reduce opportunities for new and emerging talent. We should be doing everything possible to encourage investment in new music and not to create any obstacles. There is also a real risk that ER could make our music industry uncompetitive and reduce its standing and impact globally. I believe that the Bill could damage our position as a global leader in new music, and we could see our overall share of global music revenue drop. That may lead to larger music labels deciding to invest in other countries instead of ours, as that would be seen as less costly.
Adopting ER would only add further complexity to an already challenging business model, not to mention additional costs. Those new costs would end up being passed on to the consumer, which would be really bad news for music fans and grim news for the British music industry. No one in the House would say that streaming does not require additional regulation, but that needs to be balanced to ensure that it does not reduce investment in new and emerging UK talent. Of course we need to take measures to ensure that streaming platforms properly protect and value music, but not in a way that will damage this British sector.
I know that the DCMS Committee, which I have just joined, will continue to look at this issue in depth, and I applaud the hon. Member for Cardiff West, a fellow member of the Select Committee, for bringing forward a plan that will be built on to create a fair solution for all. He knows, like I do, that the music industry is fiercely competitive, and we need to find the right way forward to protect investment in new music while ensuring that talent is properly paid and valued for its work. Sadly, I feel that this Bill will not hit the right notes for our music industry or the British music fan.
I thank the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) for bringing forward this important Bill. Music was my first love, and I looked seriously at a career as a professional musician —as a composer and a singer-songwriter. I wrote one of my earliest compositions at primary school; it was an advert for kitekat. If there were time, I may have shared it with the House, but it is perhaps fortunate that there is not.
I have written hundreds of songs over my years, and I was known for some time, rather regrettably for her, by the nickname “Kylie”. That was probably more to do with our shared height than our shared talent. When I looked into the life of a professional musician, I went to a recording studio and spoke to a number of people who were in the business—composers and singer-songwriters. It seemed to me that, at that time in the ’80s, the industry was unfair, arbitrary, uncertain and opaque about how someone could get into what they wanted to do and how they could succeed in it. As someone who wanted to earn a livelihood in that way, I was absolutely put off going into the industry. What I welcome about the discussion we have had today and the principles set out in the Bill is that they provide some areas in which we could start to rebalance and redress that imbalance and unfairness in the career structure of a professional musician, which is old-fashioned at the moment.
Having spoken to other creatives, I know that they have really benefited from the support that the Government have given, which has been referred to in today’s debate. I am pleased that a number of singer-songwriters, composers and musicians in my area have benefited from that, including Mary-Anne Hatton, Oliver Seager and Jack Perry-Cockings, who have all received support of up to £10,000 from the fund. A number of other organisations across Dover and Deal have benefited from the culture recovery fund and associated support.
However, what we have heard today also underlines that we have a long way to go before we see cultural businesses as good business—before we see the real business potential that they bring in their own right, and the real value that people in the creative industries bring and share. Decca Records contributed £10,000 to kick-start our Dame Vera Lynn memorial project and the statue dedicated to her, but it must not be the case that the record companies and those advocating a voluntary approach can just do or give what they want. There must be a better balancing of fairness and rights so that individuals can earn more of the income that they have created and brought into life and being.
I am very supportive of the direction of travel of the Bill, and I am very reassured by the Minister’s comments that we will make some firm proposals in the time to come and that, should legislation be required, it will be brought forward and supported.
I am conscious of the fact that a number of colleagues want to speak, so let me just say that music was my first love—and it will be my last.
I will try to think of colleagues and reduce a 33-minute speech to about three minutes.
It is no secret in the House that I am an immensely proud and patriotic man, and we in the United Kingdom have the best of the best in musical talent. I will be heading out to Brazil on Sunday wearing my trade envoy hat, and I will be absolutely sure as I go to promote our incredible artists and those who help to make their magic. The UK music industry plays a huge role in creating jobs and growth at home, promoting exports and projecting soft power abroad, so I ask Ministers today that we urge caution before rushing to introduce legislation that could have far-reaching unintended consequences for the industry’s world-leading status.
Mr Deputy Speaker, may I ask you a question?
“Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?
Then she's up and rock 'n' rollin' with the rest.”
I stand here as a proud Black Country lad, and now that we are in December it seems only fitting that I shout across the House, “It’s Christmas!” in homage to the first Black Country lad who asked that question, Noddy Holder, and Slade.
I often join my local radio station, Black Country Radio, which does an excellent job of promoting local bands, new and old. As I was picking my brains last night about what I wanted to say today, I gave one of its presenters, Dave Brownhill—top bloke—a call to ask about our local bands, and he reminded me of some corkers. The Black Country is rock and roll and has been incredible at creating amazing home-grown talent, and not just Slade: Led Zeppelin, Babylon Zoo, The Wonder Stuff, Judas Priest, Clint Mansell, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and so many more.
However, Dave also reminded me of our local band, the Empty Can, from Gornal in my constituency—a folk band trio who believe that the launch of their Black Country anthem can help to put the region firmly on the map. The Stourbridge News reported on how their reworking of the patriotic classic “I vow to thee, my country” has already proved an internet hit. To my great excitement, the group hopes we will back their rendition, entitled “I Vow to Thee Black Country”, still further and take the single into the national charts. I hope Members are all paying attention so that they know what song to download to make it the Christmas No. 1 this year. The Black Country anthem is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play and other online retailers from just 79p, with all money going to Compton hospice.
Thinking of colleagues, I will now cut out the 27 other minutes of my speech and ask whether my hon. Friend the Minister shares my concern that, although the Bill is of course well intentioned, many of its measures would have far-reaching consequences for artists, the music industry as a whole and the wider public. Those consequences are not yet fully understood, so we should gather the evidence to help the Government to make much more informed choices about the most suitable interventions.
It is an absolute pleasure to speak on the Bill, and I warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) on his desire to work cross-party on this important issue. I very much hope I will receive an invitation to hear his cross-party band, MP4.
Music is exceptionally important to this country. It is a huge success story. Like many in the Chamber today, I receive many Fix Streaming and Broken Record campaign emails from constituents angered at the position that musicians and composers have found themselves in as streaming has gradually taken over from physical record sales.
My constituency is a haven for artists of all kinds. Our beautiful island, with its fabulous scenery, rugged coastline and the distant mountains of Snowdonia, is the perfect environment for inspiration. It is no coincidence that Wales has long been known as the land of song.
I would like to speak about equitable remuneration, which was designed to protect musicians and other artists from exploitation. When it comes to recordings played in a public venue such as the Harbour Hotel in Cemaes or on radio stations such Môn FM—on which I can be heard speaking Welsh on Friday nights—equitable remuneration means that the artist and performer will receive an equal share of the moneys with the copyright holder, which is often the record label.
I would like to end my—long, long—speech by thanking the hon. Gentleman for bringing this Bill before us. It contains much that is good, and reform is needed. I look forward to hearing even further from the Minister, who is known to be fair-minded and collaborative.