Failure to reform the music royalties system risks ending the careers of some of the country’s finest up and coming talent before they’ve even made a breakthrough, according to a leading provider of business management and accountancy services to the UK artists across the entertainment spectrum.
Nick Lawrence, founder and CEO of BigStar, whose clients include Tom Grennan, Ocean Colour Scene, The Darkness and Happy Mondays, believes the impact of the pandemic has sharpened the focus on an outdated royalties system which sees emerging artists go months without being paid.
Lawrence said: “While many outside of the industry will see royalties as an artist’s perk, the reality is that they’re a vital source of income – even more so when other means of regular income from live shows and festivals are cut. Yet the harsh reality is that most artists, whether chart-toppers or breakthrough acts, are only paid royalties a measly twice a year.
“These artists don’t have a say on when they get paid, even though it’s their hard earned cash. And in many instances, it can be unclear how much they are due. How is that fair for the honest musicians who have bills to pay and mouths to feed just like the rest of us? It’s simply not sustainable and it risks ending promising careers prematurely.”
Lawrence believes the recent call for Boris Johnson to update the UK’s 1988 Copyright Act to reflect royalty payments for streamed music is welcome, but is ultimately the tip of the iceberg.
He continues: “Today’s artists are tied into an antiquated system that just hasn’t evolved with the world around it. Thanks to streaming, fans can buy or listen to their favourite tracks in an instant, yet the artists responsible for creating that content are held to ransom by the streaming platforms and record labels, forced to wait up to nine months to be paid.
“The solution to this certainly isn’t rocket science. The whole system needs to be made fully transparent to all parties, and give true agency to the people who it should be designed to serve: the artists. They should absolutely have a say on the means, frequency and calculation of payment. The slow (but by no means common) shift to quarterly payments is inching in the right direction, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be monthly.
“Without doubt, streaming has created a lucrative era for the record labels, but surely these corporates should be investing in the protection of the very reason they exist – the talent of their recording artists. Now is absolutely the time for a major royalties reform.”
BigStar is accountancy and business management for all levels of the entertainment industry. Its starting point is to avoid being like most other accountancy and business management companies by treating creative talent as creative talent. For more information, visit bigstarbiz.co.uk or follow BigStar on Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter.