Musicians Get Paltry Pay From Worldwide Digital Play


Download and streaming services are playing British musicians’ work to digital audiences around the world. But songwriters’ royalties from the overseas exposure are tiny – and they are going to stay that way.

New figures for musicians’ royalty earnings shine a light on a significant digital income gap.

UK royalty collector PRS For Music reports British songwriters and composers collectively earned £187.7 million ($301 million) in 2011 from plays of their songs outside the UK.

That total was 10.6 percent more than in 2010. But it contains downloads and streaming royalties of a tiny £2 million ($3.2 million).

That is miniscule, perhaps scandalous. Domestically, last year’s digital royalties totaled £38.5 million ($61.7 million) – yet British musicians are consumed heavily in the rest of the world.

In fact, British music has rarely been so popular overseas, with acts like Adele and One Direction proving to be successful in the United States, for example.

What’s to blame for the discrepancy? A PRS For Music spokesperson tells paidContent:

“In the US, there is no performing right in downloads, so any revenue from these types of services would come direct from publishers.

“Similarly, streaming rates are low and you have to have many plays to see big money.”

And things aren’t looking up either. PRS For Music’s best optimistic spin, in Friday’s announcement, is that “the figures look set to more than double by 2022″

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