European Parliament wants revision of streaming royalty calculations to favor “less popular” music

“The economic power of each actor thus defines its ability to negotiate a better agreement and it is not surprising that ‘majors’ (e.g. the biggest record labels belonging to large international media groups such as Universal Music) have a clear advantage in the game.” –European Parliament


The European Parliament, a 705-member body which works with the European Union to consider and create legislation, has issued a statement regarding artist payment by streaming music platforms. This week the EP called for new EU rules regulating a “fair and sustainable” streaming sector, and cultural diversity.

In short, the European Parliament wants streaming royalty calculations to be revised, citing “a majority of authors and performers with very low compensation.” (“Authors” in this context means songwriters and composers.)

“The literature shows that the inequalities of old rates of revenue sharing seem to have persisted despite the structural changes in the market.” The reference there is about major labels partnering with streaming services to gain bespoke royalty positions.

The briefing refers to “payola schemes” that force some participants to accept low revenues in exchange for visibility and potential audience reach. We might observe that trade-off is endemic to most markets, and certainly is a built-in aspect of global streaming.

But part of the complaint lies with unaddressed corruption in the platforms. “The EU bill should oblige platforms to make their algorithms and recommendation tools transparent,to prevent unfair practices, such as manipulation of streaming figures, allegedly used to reduce artists’ fees.” The EP also complains of user fraud such as AI deepfakes.

The EP frankly and unabashedly wants streaming services to curate with greater favor to unpopular artists: “Revenues in the streaming market go primarily to major labels and a few most popular artists, while the less popular styles and less common languages are played less frequently.” The lawmaking body would like “a European industrial strategy for music should promote the diversity of the European music sector, boosting smaller players.”

More objectively, the European Parliament wants more transparency in the rules and algorithms used in streaming.


Brad Hill


  1. Performance royalties were enacted allegedly due to the ease of making perfect copies online. Perhaps webcasters past present and future should fight back by finding the audio quality people are will sing to pay for a digital copy. If 128kbps stereo is it, shouldn’t streaming be free somewhere below that?

  2. I I hope by “unpopular” they mean good music that hasn’t been discovered yet.

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