Supplementary written evidence submitted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

 

 

29th March 2021

 

Dear Chair,

 

Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the research into Creators’ earnings in the digital age which has been co-funded by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) alongside Nesta’s Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), and Research England.

 

The Government wants to develop its understanding of the complex streaming environment, gathering as much evidence as possible to understand whether intervention is needed from a copyright perspective. There are many different and competing interests at stake, so a strong evidence base is critical. To that end, we welcome the work of this committee and those who have engaged with it.

 

The Government has been working to improve the evidence base in this area for several years. In 2019 the IPO funded a piece of research called Music 2025, which examined issues facing the UK’s music industry and what might impact upon its future success. The report highlighted the data issue surrounding creators’ earnings and the fact that a lot of the debate around creators’ earnings was not supported by strong evidence.

 

Following its publication, the IPO was approached by a consortium which included the Ivors Academy, the Musicians Union (MU), the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and the PRS for Music, to support a piece of independent research about these issues. It began in May 2020, is being independently led by three academics, Dr Hyojung Sun, Dr David Hesmondhalgh, and Dr Richard Osborne, and is due to report this summer.

 

A Steering Board consisting of the IPO and all the consortium members was expanded earlier this year to include the Association of Independent Music (AIM), the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), and the Music Publishers Association (MPA). It offers support and guidance to the research team as they develop the project and helps to identify potential data sources and support approaches for access to data. Its Terms of Reference is at Annex 1.

 

The research team has obtained the following datasets:

 

-          One large independent record company shared, under NDA, revenues and costs associated with their contracted artists.

 

-          The MU shared a set of anonymised, redacted music publishing and recording contracts, allowing the researchers to track changing contractual terms over a 20-year period.

 

-          PRS for Music provided a data set, covering the average numbers of writers per work and the numbers of writers within certain earning brackets.

-          To gain data that would allow them to assess potential ‘long tail’ effects, the research team have purchased datasets on streaming from the Official Charts Company (which is jointly owned by the BPI and the Entertainment Retailers Association), tracking changes in the total number of UK streams in a sample month (October, for 2014-2020) and how these totals divide by level of popularity of artists and tracks.

 

-          Further purchases include the data published in the BPI Handbook and in the media consultancy MiDIA’s reports, and the data made available last week by Spotify, as part of its Loud and Clear initiative.

 

Additionally, the research team has:

 

-          Held four focus groups with creators from different genres and background, with the help of FAC, MU, Ivors Academy, and AIM;

 

-          Interviewed a wide range of stakeholders (list included in annex 2), supplemented by analysis of submissions to the DCMS Inquiry;

 

-          Conducted a survey on creators’ earnings which has been distributed through members channels of: AIM, FAC, Ivors Academy, the MU, and PEC – the survey was live until 25th March; 

 

The research team has also approached, with a view to gathering more data:

 

-          Most of the main streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple, YouTube, Deezer, and SoundCloud. Of these companies, only YouTube Music, Deezer and Soundcloud agreed to be interviewed. None provided relevant data that was not already in the public domain.

 

-          All the major record companies and publishers. Unfortunately, all the major record companies declined the researchers requests for further discussions, with some delegating such requests to the BPI. Only one major publishing company agreed to an interview.

 

Overall, the research team believes they have already gathered a more comprehensive set of data than in any previous published research on the issue. However, the research team continues to work with streaming platforms, the MPA and the BPI on access to additional data to support the project. They have also identified particular datasets they would find valuable – these are set out at Annex 3 for information.

 

The team hopes to provide a first draft of its findings at the start of May and would be happy to share an interim report with the committee in confidence. In addition, the IPO is working with the research team and Steering Group to develop opportunities for peer-review where the research can be presented to a diverse audience to test the findings. I will keep the Committee informed of any planned events. I hope the committee can continue to support the IPO and the research team in building the evidence base in this important endeavour.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

AMANDA SOLLOWAY MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Minister for Science, Research and Innovation

 

 

 

Annexes:

  1. Terms of reference for the Steering board for the Creators Earnings in a Digital Age research
  2. List of stakeholders who have participated in interviews.
  3. Additional data the research team would find valuable


Annex 1

 

CREATORS EARNINGS IN A DIGITAL AGE RESEARCH PROJECT

 

Steering Board Terms of Reference

 

Role

The Steering Board will:

 

Composition

The Steering Board will comprise:

 

Redacted (Project Manager) will attend all meetings.

 

The following will attend meetings by invitation:

 

Chair

The Chair of Steering Board meetings will be Redacted (IPO).  In the absence of the Chair, the members of the Steering Board present may choose one of their number to chair the meeting.

 

Confidentiality

All Steering Board discussions are confidential, as are all communications and paperwork relating to this project.  Steering Board members may update and seek soundings from their board/similar on a confidential basis.  Nothing else may be shared outside of the Steering Board and list of invited attendees without Steering Board permission. 

 

Conflicts of Interest

Steering Board members and invited attendees will not be present where their presence represents a conflict of interest.

 

Meetings

The Steering Board will meet on a quarterly (first six months) moving to two-monthly basis. 

 

Quorum

In order for the Steering Board to conduct business, three Steering Board members must be present in person or virtually.

 

Decision-making

It is the responsibility of the Chair to seek to ensure that any decisions are made by consensus. 

 

Administration

The Project Manager is the point of contact for all communications.

 

Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Project Manager will produce and circulate a note of each meeting within a week of the meeting date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVISED: 22 January 2021


Annex 2

 

List of organisations that were interviewed

 

No

Organisation

Note

1

IVORS Academy

Council of Music Makers

2

Musicians’ Union

Council of Music Makers

3

FAC

Council of Music Makers

4

MMF

Council of Music Makers

5

MPG

Council of Music Makers

6

PRS for Music

CMO

7

PPL

CMO

8

BPI

Trade Body

9

AIM

Trade Body

10

UK Music

Trade Body

11

IFPI

Trade Body

12

Deezer

Streaming Music Services

13

YouTube

Streaming Music Services

14

Soundcloud

Streaming Music Services

15

Bandcamp

Music service

16

BMG

Major publishing

17

Beggars

Independent label

18

Broken Records Campaign

Music creator

19

WIN

Trade Association

20

Bucks Music

Independent publishing

21

Reverb Music

Independent Publishing

22

Believe Digital

Indie distributor

23

Ditto

Indie distributor

24

A popular musician’s manager

Manager

25

Spotify

Former employee

26

Former ASCAP

Former employee

27

Former Sony

Former employee

 


Annex 3

 

Additional data the research team would find valuable

 

It is difficult to know what data might be available from stakeholders, but other data that would be extremely valuable in informing current debates about music creators’ earnings would be the following: