Competition watchdog launches probe into music streaming market

The Competition and Markets Authority will be asking if the market is ‘working well for music lovers’.

The Competition and Markets Authority will be asking if the market is ‘working well for music lovers’ (PA)
The Competition and Markets Authority will be asking if the market is ‘working well for music lovers’ (PA)

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched a probe into music streaming, it has announced.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be asking if the market is “working well for music lovers”, as part of a study launched on Thursday, the regulator said.

According to figures released by trade association the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) in January, the UK’s music consumption rose for a seventh successive year in 2021, with streaming accounting for 83% of the total.

Ministers referred the case to the CMA following an inquiry by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the economics of streaming.

The report warned that “pitiful returns” from the current system are affecting the “entire creative ecosystem” and suggested some successful and critically acclaimed musicians are seeing “meagre returns” from their work.

It also raised “deep concerns” about the position of the major music companies in the market.

Major record labels Sony Music Warner Music and Universal Music appeared before MPs during the sessions, while tech giants Spotify, Amazon, Apple and YouTube also gave evidence.

In its announcement, the CMA said its study will be examining the music streaming market from “creator to consumer”, including a focus on the roles played by record labels and music streaming services.

It added that it will “also assess whether any lack of competition between music companies could affect the musicians, singers and songwriters whose interests are intertwined with those of music lovers” and said if it “finds problems” it will consider “what action may be necessary”.

Chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Whether you’re into Bowie, Beethoven or Beyonce, most of us now choose to stream our favourite music.

A vibrant and competitive music streaming market not only serves the interests of fans and creators but helps support a diverse and dynamic sector

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli

“A vibrant and competitive music streaming market not only serves the interests of fans and creators but helps support a diverse and dynamic sector, which is of significant cultural and economic value to the UK.

“As we examine this complex market, our thinking and conclusions will be guided by the evidence we receive.”

In a letter to Mr Coscelli, culture minister Caroline Dinenage and parliamentary under secretary of state for science, research and innovation Amanda Solloway said any Government action should be led by “robust evidence”.

“The Government’s view is that transparency and fairness in the global streaming environment are key,” they said.

This is a complex area, so it is vitally important that any action by the Government be led by robust evidence

Conservative MPs Caroline Dineage and Amanda Solloway

“It wants to encourage innovation in the market, to help foster diversity of music genres and consumer choice, and is acutely aware of the pressures on music creators.

“However, this is a complex area, so it is vitally important that any action by the Government be led by robust evidence.”

In December, MPs debated the Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians) Bill, which is sponsored by Cardiff West Labour MP Kevin Brennan.

The Bill, which is still going through the House of Commons, would introduce a right to “equitable remuneration” for streaming income – where performers have a right to receive a share without reference to their label contracts.

It would also give musicians more of a say over how their music is used, including rights to reclaim ownership from record companies after 20 years.

In a statement, the BPI said: “Streaming has led to an explosion of choice for music fans and creators in the UK.

“The BPI looks forward to engaging closely with the CMA to help it understand the changes that streaming has brought to the music market.“

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in