A view from the Emirates Airline of the 02 Arena at sunset with Canary Wharf and the London skyline in the background.

A view from the Emirates Airline of the 02 Arena at sunset with Canary Wharf and the London skyline in the background.

Matt Cheetham/Loop/Getty Images

A consortium of U.K. music societies and trade organisations, representing the interests of thousands of artists, songwriters and musicians, has called upon the British government to back its campaign for greater transparency around streaming royalties.

It follows on from failed efforts to establish a voluntary code of practice among rights holders, publishers, labels, artists, collection societies and digital services, conducted in association with umbrella organization UK Music, which recently fell apart after 18 months of discussions, negotiation and extensive rewrites of over 17 drafts.

The aim of the non-legally binding agreement was to “establish a simple code of conduct for the recorded music industry focusing on the principles of transparency, clarity and alignment of interests,” says a joint statement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors BASCA, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), Music Managers Forum (MMF), Music Producers Guild (MPG) and Musicians Union (MU).

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“Despite much patience and many concessions, these efforts have been in vain due to intransigence on the part of the major music corporations,” the statement goes on to say, welcoming support from a number of politicians who backed their cause in a Westminster debate about protecting intellectual property, held in London earlier today (Feb. 28)   

“We therefore welcome the acknowledgement of Parliamentarians that intervention is required to guarantee greater clarity to music-makers. And ensure that a fairer share of the commercial growth from services that use our music goes back to the artists, songwriters and producers that created it,” the statement continues.

At the heart of the dispute is artists and creators fight for greater transparency around commercial deals between rights holders (i.e. labels) and digital services, the terms and details of which have traditionally been hidden behind complex and opaque non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and secretive revenue shares. Increased transparency would enable artists and songwriters to see exactly how their music was being licensed and how the resulting revenues are being distributed, argue campaigners.

Last year, the European Commission published its long-awaited draft Copyright Directive which contained a number of transparency provisions that significantly strengthened the hand of artists and composers living in EU member states. However, under Brexit those provisions will not necessarily apply in the U.K. – although measures are already being proposed in support of British creators.

Earlier this month, Lord Clement-Jones tabled an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill supporting the creation of a Code of Practice that would provide authors, artists and performers “timely, adequate and sufficient information on the exploitation of their works,” including “information on modes of exploitation, revenues generated and remuneration due.”

In the absence of such a code, Lord Clement-Jones proposed that creators would be entitled to apply to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court for a detailed account of any revenues due to them.