Labels and artists face ‘massive competition’ from classic acts due to streaming

Record labels and new artists face “massive competition” from established acts such as Queen and the Beatles due to the advent of streaming, according to a music copyright collective.

Peter Leathem, chief executive of Phonographic Performance Ltd, told MPs that performers were “struggling” to make a living from their music in part due to the competition they face for plays and revenue.

He was appearing before the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the economics of music streaming, which has so far heard from musicians including Elbow’s Guy Garvey and singer-songwriter Nadine Shah.

He told MPs: “You are also faced with massive competition. If you look at 2019, the best-selling albums were Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, based on the film and Abbey Road by the Beatles, its 50-year anniversary.

“If you are trying to break a new artist or trying to get your own streaming going you have got the last 50 years of the music industry to compete with.

“In terms of trying to get your streaming, your activity, generally speaking it is hard but ultimately you have got some of the most talented people in our society as performers etc struggling to make a living.”

Up-and-coming artists are also competing for a share of a “smaller pie”, he said.

He added: “What you have is lots and lots of activity, lots of streaming taking place, the value of the market is that much less, and with so much more streaming and so much more back catalogues, so much more competition, you have got a smaller pie that everyone is fighting over.

“This is why the music industry has come back at times to say, ‘Look, we need more support’ in terms of the value gap and things that are happening.”