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MPs and music industry bodies criticise pay of Universal head Lucian Grainge | Universal Music

MPs and music industry bodies have criticised the pay of Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group (UMG), who is ready to earn extra in 2021 than all UK songwriters did mixed from streams and gross sales of their music in 2019.

Grainge’s pay this yr is buoyed by one-off money bonuses that whole an estimated £123m, following UMG’s profitable inventory market flotation in September, and the sale of a further 10% stake of UMG to Chinese firm Tencent.

They may push his whole earnings for 2021 over £150m, the determine that the Intellectual Property Office, a UK authorities physique, calculated, utilizing common royalty charges, that UK composers and lyricists earned in 2019 from streaming, downloads and gross sales.

Conservative MP Esther McVey mentioned: “It’s shocking that record label owners are earning more out of artists’ works than the artists themselves … We’ve got to put this right, to fix streaming so that it pays more like radio and get back to the notion of fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

She voiced assist for a change in copyright legislation round music streaming, that may deliver royalty funds extra in step with how funds are made for radio performs. It would change the present system, the place streaming royalties are set by way of agreements between streaming corporations and document labels.


As effectively as income from touring and merchandise, songwriters and performers do produce other potential income streams moreover streaming royalties, such because the rights they earn from their music being carried out on radio or in public, or licensed to be used elsewhere. But these revenues are inclined to skew in the direction of probably the most profitable artists, and many musicians have complained that the shift in the direction of streaming and away from bodily gross sales has harmed their revenue.

Labour MP Jo Stevens, shadow secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), mentioned: “When music lovers stream their favourite tracks, they expect those who made the music to be fairly paid. But the reality is artists get a pitiful amount while streaming sites and record companies cash in.” She additionally known as for a change in laws.

A cross-party group of MPs are bringing a invoice to be thought-about in parliament on 3 December, entitled Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, Etc), that can put ahead the advised legislative adjustments. Last month, 44 Conservative MPs led by McVey signed a letter calling for the adjustments, arguing: “These huge and often foreign-owned multinational corporations have done astronomically well this past year compared to artists.” In April, a gaggle of musicians together with Paul McCartney and Kate Bush gave their assist for the change in laws.

Paul McCartney and Kate Bush, who have called for legislative change around streaming.
Paul McCartney and Kate Bush, who’ve known as for legislative change round streaming. Composite: Getty Images, REX/Shutterstock

The Musicians’ Union and songwriter physique the Ivors Academy additionally voiced criticism of Grainge’s pay. Crispin Hunt, chair of the Ivors Academy, mentioned: “This is evidence of a business which is completely out of control. For songwriters who are struggling to make a living, there’s only one word for it – obscene.”


In a quarterly earnings announcement final month, UMG revenues grew yr on yr by 17.4%. Investors reacted with confidence to the corporate’s flotation on Amsterdam’s Euronext inventory alternate in September: its shares surged to €25.10 from a €18.50 reference value on the primary day of buying and selling, and are presently priced at €26.98.

Speaking to the corporate’s buyers on the earnings name, Grainge – who has not commented on the criticism of his pay – predicted “unprecedented opportunity for further growth. Given that fans now have access to essentially all of the world’s music in the palm of their hands, and that consumer demand for music across cultures, eras, languages, and genres is at historic highs, I remain unwavering in my confidence that the path we’re on will lead us on to greater heights.”

He acknowledged the difficulties round streaming for artists: “When every single day, approximately 60,000 tracks are uploaded to Spotify alone, the reality is it’s harder than ever for artists to cut through all of the noise to find and expand their audience. That is exactly why we place the utmost priority on maximising opportunities for artists to bring their music to the world and to connect with fans in increasingly rich ways.”

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