Electric Avenue singer Eddy Grant has hit out at the streaming giants, describing the royalties paid to musicians as “rubbish”.
The 73-year-old, who broke ground in the 1960s with his multi-racial rock group The Equals, does not have any of his music on streaming platforms in protest at the amount of money going to artists and songwriters.
There has been increased scrutiny of the streaming model since Covid-19 effectively halted live performance revenue in March 2020, with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee launching an inquiry into its economics.
Guyana-born Grant, who also runs the Ice Records label specialising in calypso and soca, said he would consider making his music available to stream if musicians began receiving “sensible” sums.
He told the PA news agency: “You are representing artists and you are representing yourself and you are representing this little company.
“By the time they have split up whatever it is between themselves, well it is legendary, you know it, everybody knows it – there is nothing there.
“Now they are trying to fix that. But still they are being reticent about looking after writers and publishers, saying that they are shops, apart from being record companies.
“It is still in its formative stages as far as I am concerned. How am I going to turn around and tell my writers there is nothing for you?
“In streaming you have got to do, I don’t know, 500 million downloads before you can get a week’s wage or something like that. It’s rubbish.
“Until it becomes something that is sensible – and I am always there to talk to them, people are approaching me all the time – but it hasn’t reached a point yet.”
He said the money was “too slim – the onion has been sliced too thin, so I can see through it”.
Grant suggested that classic acts were selling off their back catalogues because they believed there was “no value” in them anymore.
Recent months have seen artists including Mick Fleetwood, Neil Young, Blondie singer Debbie Harry and Mark Ronson sell interests in their music.
In December, Universal Music Group announced it had acquired Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue in a deal reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Grant told PA: “I am absolutely a little guy in the world of the record business. I am trying to help and trying to make music and trying to do this and that for other artists and so on.
“But it is not long before I am pulled down because I just don’t have the kind of resources.
“And you can see it today in the business that everybody and his brother is selling out that which is most valuable to them.
“When you have got Neil Young and Bob Dylan selling his catalogue for 400 million dollars. Forget it. Bob Dylan must be worth twice that.
“So then why? Because they are seeing no value in it. They are seeing no future in it. Look, if I am wrong I apologise to whoever it is and I will be signing up with them shortly.
“But trust me. You know it ain’t going to happen like that.”
– Eddy Grant’s single I Belong To You from the album Plaisance is out now via www.eddygrant.com