Michael Price is a composer of television and film music and the chair of the New Media Executive Committee of the British Academy of Songwriters. He is unhappy about the changes made by media companies in the way that composers are being paid for their music.
Price said he was a supporter of licensed streaming services, but called for a new era of “transparency” in which tech giants and record companies disclose explicit details of the deals which set the rates on how much artists and songwriters receive. His comments follow the recent launches of the Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music streaming services, and come in the wake of claims by US musician David Byrne that record companies are siphoning off revenues from streaming and not paying royalties to artists and writers.
Price claimed that many of their employees didn’t recognise the value of music. “People working in these tech companies are often of a generation that has never paid for music in a conventional sense. They cannot understand that the value of their service is only because people want to listen to the music on it.”
Price pointed out that, unlike successful pop and rock artists, composers were usually not able to supplement their music royalties by selling tickets for live performances. “There was a concept that free exposure for artists was good for our career – that ship sailed quite a long time ago.”
He is chair of the media executive committee of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, which is campaigning for a 50-50 split of streaming royalties between the creator of a piece of music and the record companies. Songwriters currently receive only 10.5 per cent.
Price is looking forward to the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in London next weekend, featuring the score he wrote with fellow composer David Arnold, alongside other music connected to the detective.
But he fears quality music from less high-profile shows is being denied the chance to be recorded as an album because of low streaming rates.