It’s crunch time in the music industry’s royalties battle with tech firms

Round two in the music industry’s fight to get tech giants to pay more in royalties kicks off in the European Parliament tomorrow.

MEP’s will vote on a proposal geared towards getting online platforms to stump up more cash for singers and musicians.

The music industry has long argued that some of the biggest players in the tech world are using out of date legislation to avoid paying musicians a fair rate when their work is streamed.

UK Music, the industry’s campaigning body, has been particularly critical of YouTube accusing it of “bulldozing” over creativity. And the figures don’t look good: the Google-owned company pays an artist about £540 per one million streams – far less than Spotify (£3,400), Apple (£5,700) or Tidal (£9,800).

To make its point UK Music, along with Suede frontman Brett Anderson, Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, Newton Faulkner and Ed Harcourt, last week staged a protest outside the London headquarters of Google-owned YouTube.

Surrounded by posters emblazoned with #Love Music, the performers busked to demonstrate that even the spare change from passers-by brings in more cash than tens of thousands of streams on YouTube.

Many big names, including Sir Paul McCartney, have also thrown their support behind the campaign. In July he wrote to Euro MPs urging them to vote for the change: “We need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all.”

But for all musicians, taking on YouTube is something of a Catch 22. While YouTube hits won’t pay the bills, the internet behemoth does provide artists with an unrivalled opportunity to reach a wider audience and it’s hard for up-and-coming artists to turn their backs on the prospect of such exposure. For bigger artists like Macca there are conflicts too; he has a partnership deal with YouTube to promote his new album Egypt Train, a fact Google gleefully publicised last week when it was copping flak over YT’s copyright policy.

Robert Kyncl, YouTube CEO, defended the firm against the criticisms by saying it had “eliminated the barriers of traditional media gatekeepers and ignited a new global creative economy for creators and artists. It has given anyone with an idea the ability to share their passion, find fans all over the world and build a business.”

Tomorrow’s vote will be closely watched by musicians across the UK, as the result is by no means certain. A similar vote went before the European Parliament back in July and failed to win the backing of enough MEPs.

If you’d like to read how some artists are re-shaping the way they use social media by setting up their own apps in a bid to have greater control over who they share their content with and to increase their revenues CLICK HERE.