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  • Writer's pictureNaomi Pohl

Tom Gray, featured artist, songwriter and #BrokenRecord campaigner lends me his backing

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Tom and I have been working closely together as he runs the #BrokenRecord campaign and I work on the Musicians' Union and The Ivors Academy campaign to #FixStreaming.

When musicians lost their work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that music streaming was not playing its part in generating royalties to help sustain them.

When music listeners turned to streaming services more than ever during lockdown, the record labels saw their profits increase but there was no equivalent upturn in royalties for the vast majority of musicians and music creators. For this reason, we launched the two campaigns; Tom's was a grassroots movement of artists. The MU and The Ivors Academy campaign was the industry version. Between us, we have been able to engage thousands of musicians, songwriters and composers in the debate as well as attracting international attention to the issues with music streaming. Our greatest achievement has to be in engaging the UK Government and applying significant pressure to labels and platforms; first a Select Committee inquiry and now a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority. We have cross-party support which is important if we want to influence Government policy and change the law.

The two campaigns have motivated members to write to their MPs, submit evidence to the Select Committee, tune in to Parliamentary debates, turn up to protest in support of Kevin Brennan's Bill and take to social media using the two hashtags. Over 200 artists signed a letter to the Prime Minister. Make no mistake - the success achieved has been through organisation of members and their activism. Tom, along with Crispin Hunt, has played a huge part in this and is a great example of activism making a real difference. We have also been doing some great trade union work with this campaign; fighting major companies to get a fairer deal and better pay for working musicians. If we achieve the change we want to see, featured artists will see improved contracts, session and orchestral musicians will receive increased royalties from recorded music and the independent sector will see greater access to the streaming market.

I am really proud of this campaign and we will continue to fight. Meanwhile, I think there are some learnings that we can take from #FixStreaming to our other campaigning, lobbying and organising work. We need better arts funding coming out of the pandemic, including funds for individuals, we must resolve Brexit problems affecting touring musicians, and we must take a fresh look at our lobbying and campaigning work around music education. We also need to organise musicians to improve pay post-pandemic. The success of #BrokenRecord and #FixStreaming and the way we have coordinated with #BrokenRecord and The Ivors Academy in our lobbying and campaigning work is a model I hope to take into other key areas of concern for members.

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