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UK government announces Industry Transparency Code on Music Streaming

The UK government has today announced a new Industry Transparency Code on Music Streaming, committed to increasing transparency around streaming practices.

  • READ MORE: Streaming – what happens next? Artists demand “a shift in the way business is done”

The code was facilitated by the Intellectual Property Office and developed by a series of industry experts. It will come into force from July 31 this year.

Viscount Camrose, the Minister for AI and Intellectual Property, said:  “From The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Dua Lipa and Little Mix, the UK music scene is the envy of the world. In the last decade, the way that we consume our music has changed markedly, and that’s why we’re taking steps to help ensure artists get the royalties and protections they deserve when their music is played on streaming platforms.

“This pioneering code, designed by the music industry with government backing, has trust at its core. I’m delighted to see the UK leading the charge to ensure our peerless creative minds get the protections they deserve, as the way we listen to our favourite tracks continues to evolve.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer added: “For decades the UK music industry has projected our soft power to the world. Our home-grown artists make awe-inspiring music that brings in billions of pounds to the economy.

“As technology continues to transform the industry, musicians must be entitled to a clear and simple way of understanding what they can expect to be paid from streaming royalties.
Frazer added: “I welcome the music industry working together on this, and look forward to this code being put into practice.”

(CREDIT: Stephen Frost / Alamy Stock Photo)

One industry body involved with the creation of the code was the Association Of Independent Music (AIM), whose COO Gee Davy said: “The Transparency Code is a milestone, with participants across the music sector uniting to improve trust and understanding of the streaming ecosystem through transparency. We welcome the participating streaming platforms’ commitment to aid wider understanding of their models and payments.

“As well as providing clarity on expected standards for more established players, we expect the Code to prove vital for those starting out and growing their business to ensure they are set on the right path from day one. By consulting across the broad independent sector, AIM has ensured that the Code should be achievable for all, no matter their scale. We will be collaborating with other trade body signatories over the coming months to offer guidance and support for independents to ensure all can uphold the highest standards possible.”

The Council of Music Makers, a joint campaigning voice of the Ivors Academy, FAC, MMF, MPG and the MU, added: “The Council Of Music Makers welcomes the Transparency Code that has been agreed by the UK music industry today. Although the commitments in the code are modest, it provides a framework that can be used to start tackling the “systemic lack of transparency” in music streaming that was identified by the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee in 2021.

“Since then, the lack of transparency in streaming has increased, with individual streaming services announcing new business models, such as payment thresholds and spatial audio uplifts, developed without consultation with music-makers or their representatives, making it even harder to understand how they are paying through.

“We now need everyone working in the industry to fully embrace the code, and to go above and beyond in providing music-makers with the information they need to properly manage, understand and audit the digital side of their individual music-maker businesses.”

CREDIT: Didem Mente/Anadolu via Getty Images

The news of the new code comes after the European Union recently called for changes to the music streaming business, including fairer royalty distributions and increasing payments to artists.

This month, the EU adopted a resolution to address the imbalance of revenue allocation in music streaming, including creating a new legal framework for streaming. There are currently no EU rules that apply to the sector.

The proposal follows Spotify’s confirmation that all songs on the platform must have a minimum of 1,000 streams before they can earn any royalties. The policy changed was slammed by independent artists such as Damon & Naomi, who claimed it would “move an estimated $40-$46 million annually from artists like Damon & Naomi to artists like Ed Sheeran.”

It was also recently revealed that roughly a quarter of music on streaming services didn’t get played at all in 2023.

In 2021, MPs called for a “complete reset” to address the “pitiful returns” musicians receive from streaming, as laid out in a report from the government’s Economics Of Music Streaming inquiry/

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