Music streaming market offers ‘good results’ for consumers, says watchdog

Streaming now dominates the music industry, but it offers a good range of choices for consumers, according to an initial analysis by the competition watchdog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said 80% of recorded music is now listened to via streaming services, with more than 138 billion streams in the UK last year.

An industry report was launched earlier this year in response to an investigation by the Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport into the streaming economy.

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

But in an initial update on its work so far, the CMA said it found that listeners had access to a wide range of music for a fixed monthly fee and that those charges had come down in real terms.

He said streaming has allowed not only listeners to access music, but also artists to save and share it.

However, he noted that the music industry remains difficult for many creators, with a small number of high-profile artists enjoying the bulk of the financial success while the majority fail to make substantial income.

The CMA said it believed the market was currently performing well for customers, but said it would be concerned if innovation in the sector wanes or the balance of power shifts and homes record companies and streaming services were starting to make sustained and substantial excess profits. .

“Streaming has transformed music. Technology opens the door for many new artists to find an audience and music lovers can access a huge range of music, old and new, at prices that have fallen in real terms,” said Sarah Cardell, Acting Chief Executive Officer. of CMA.

“But for many artists, it’s just as difficult as it always has been, and many feel they’re not getting a fair deal.

“Our initial analysis shows that outcomes for artists are not driven by competitive issues, such as sustained excessive profits.

“We now look forward to hearing views on our initial findings that will help guide our thinking and inform our final report.”

In light of its initial findings, the watchdog said it was willing not to launch a full investigation into the sector, but would consider the proposal until August 19.

AMC’s full market research is also ongoing and a report has yet to be released.

The regulator said it would share its analysis with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Center for Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) to help inform their work around empowering artists. rights.

Naomi Pohl, general secretary of the Musicians Union, said it was “disappointing” that “competition issues” in the streaming market were “not being fully explored by a CMA investigation”.

“Today’s CMA statement highlights what it sees as positive impacts of music streaming, but we believe they failed to acknowledge the very serious issues facing creators,” said she declared.

“In the long term, this could reduce the diversity of British music available to consumers, as musicians are forced to look for other ways to earn a living. We had especially hoped that the CMA would be helpful to songwriters who currently receive a small share of streaming revenue.

“Our fight to ‘fix streaming’ will continue, and we continue to push for legislative reform to ensure fair payments to our members.”