Music Streaming: Is It a Level Playing Field?

Abstract

Our paper argues that fair competition in music streaming is restricted by the nature of the remuneration arrangements between creators and the streaming platforms, the role of playlists, and the strong negotiating power of the major labels. It concludes that urgent consideration should be given to a user-centric payment system, as well as greater transparency of the factors underpinning playlist creation and of negotiated agreements.

Our article, Music Streaming: Is It a Level Playing Field? is published in the February 2021 issue of CPI Antitrust Chronicle, which is fully devoted to competition policy issues in the music industry.

The dramatic growth of music streaming over recent years is potentially very positive. Streaming provides consumers with low cost, easy access to a wide range of music, while it provides music creators with low cost, easy access to a potentially wide audience. But many creators are unhappy about the major streaming platforms. They consider that they act in an unfair way, create an unlevel playing field and threaten long-term creativity in the music industry.

Our paper describes and assesses the basis for one element of these concerns, competition between recordings on streaming platforms. We argue that fair competition is restricted by the nature of the remuneration arrangements between creators and the streaming platforms, the role of playlists, and the strong negotiating power of the major labels. It concludes that urgent consideration should be given to a user-centric payment system, as well as greater transparency of the factors underpinning playlist creation and of negotiated agreements.

You can read the entire issue and the full text of our article on Competition Policy International in pdf.

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