LONDON — The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the trade body representing recording artists and the UK music industry, launched a stinging attack on YouTube and other video streaming services Friday.
The organisation says that a huge increase in video streaming has not been followed by an increase in revenue from the format, and that artists are actually making more from vinyl sales than video streams.
Vinyl sales shot up in 2015, growing for the eighth consecutive year to 2 million, the highest number in 21 years. The last time they were this high, Coolio and LV were riding high in the charts, battling Take That, Rednex and N-Trance for the top spot.
However, among emerging formats, the results were mixed for recording artists.
The report highlights that an 82% growth in audio streaming (to 27 billion plays) has resulted in a 69% rise in income (to £146.1 million). That’s pretty good news in an area long derided for not paying artists.
However, an even bigger rise in video streaming (88%) has led to a tiny growth in “revenue from pure ad-funded platforms” of 4% (to £24.4 million). Not such good news.
That £24.4 million from ad-supported video streaming (essentially YouTube) is lower than the £25.1 million earned by labels from vinyl sales – a format that represents less than 2% of overall music consumption in the UK.
Total industry revenue dropped 0.9% to £688 million in 2015.
The BPI called recent moves by YouTube a “value grab” and urged the government and the EU to address the issue.
“It is hugely encouraging that demand for British music is so strong at home and abroad,” BPI & Brit Awards Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said. “Yet the fact that sales revenues dipped in a record year for British music shows clearly that something is fundamentally broken in the music market, so that artists and the labels that invest in them no longer benefit fairly from growing demand.”
Dominant tech platforms like YouTube are able to abuse liability protections as royalty havens
“Instead, dominant tech platforms like YouTube are able to abuse liability protections as royalty havens, dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists.”
“The long-term consequences of this will be serious, reducing investment in new music, making it difficult for most artists to earn a living, and undermining the growth of more innovative services like Spotify and Apple Music that pay more fairly for the music they use.”
A spokesperson for YouTube insisted that comparing revenue from audio and video streaming was like comparing apples to oranges.
“For years, the music industry lost millions of dollars as piracy rates soared,” they said. “Thanks to our rights management system, Content ID, rights holders have complete control of their music on YouTube and can easily decide whether to have content taken down, or profit from it.”
“Today, revenue from Content ID represents 50% of what we pay out annually. In fact, ad-supported music streaming enables revenue from an audience that has never before paid for music.”
The BPI’s report also gives massive props to Adele, for flogging 17.4 million copies of 25 worldwide, making it the biggest-selling album globally. It’s the eighth time an artist from the UK has topped the list in the last 11 years. Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and One Direction were also responsible for the British invasion.
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