Music industry commits to addressing metadata, streaming and fair royalty remuneration

June 2, 2023
Record player

Managing Partner Euan Lawson and Trainee Solicitor Charlie Edwards reflect on the news that the UK Government and music industry have come together in an effort to improve music streaming metadata and to establish a working group to explore creator remuneration.


Addressing the perceived imbalance regarding music streaming royalties has been on the UK Government’s radar since 2019. One of the main obstacles to resolving the issue is a lack of accurate and complete metadata – which essentially describes how a track was created and who contributed to its creation. Metadata is critical in determining who is credited, paid and to what extent.

Inadequate metadata can cause delays in creators being paid and in some cases creators not being paid at all. For instance, in 2021 the Ivors Academy estimated that, globally, approximately £500 million a year of streaming royalties due for payment to songwriters and rights-holders were affected by poor data. [1]

As part of the Government’s review, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (the DCMS) published an initial report in 2021 which called for a ‘complete reset’ of the streaming market. Frustrated with the progress, the DCMS released a follow-up report in January 2023, with Damian Green MP, acting Chair of the DCMS at the time, stating:

“Over the last 18 months the Government has made some welcome moves… but there is still much more to do to ensure the talent behind the music is properly rewarded… there is still frustration about the returns for the vast majority of musicians and songwriters." [2]

The follow-up report from the DCMS recommended that the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) establish a working group to tackle remuneration and performer rights.


On 30 May 2023, the Government responded to this report with an announcement that they will do just that. They have agreed to establish an industry working group to explore issues around fair pay for creators in the music streaming industry.

Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, chair of the Culture, Media and Sports Committee welcomed this news as “a step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry.” However, she warned that “the Government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change." [3]

In addition to the commitment to establish a working group, on 31 May 2023, the IPO published the UK Industry Agreement on Music Streaming Metadata (the Metadata Agreement). [4]

The Metadata Agreement, which is voluntary, outlines a commitment for representatives across the UK music sector to “improve metadata in new recordings, and deliver consistent crediting on streaming services over a two-year period”. This will involve, among other things, taking steps to ensure “a core data set is associated with all new recordings” and following and promoting “good practice”. [5]


Notable signatories include:

•      Association of Independent Music;

•      British Phonographic Industry (BPI);

•      The Ivors Academy;

•      Music Managers Forum;

•      Musicians’ Union;

•      Phonographic Performance Limited; and

•      PRS For Music.


The Metadata Agreement has been well-received within the creative industries with Viscount Camrose, Minister for AI and Intellectual Property, commenting:

“Good quality metadata benefits everyone who creates and enjoys music. The agreement on metadata is a positive commitment by the music industry to improve the quality of metadata in the UK. I am very pleased to see the wide range of organisations which are signatories to the agreement, and I look forward to seeing the further progress that industry makes on metadata over the next two years." [6]

What does this actually mean and what is next?

The Government will be discussing the formation of the working group with industry stakeholders over the coming weeks; it is understood that the group will be composed of experts from across the music industry.

In relation to the Metadata Agreement, the idea is that by the end of the two-year period the collaborative effort will have improved the quality of metadata associated with new recordings so that a complete set of data is provided to streaming services in much shorter timeframes. This will, in theory, ensure that all creators involved in the recording are correctly credited and remunerated in a timely fashion.

Both the Metadata Agreement and the working group form part of a wider programme from the Government and industry to address issues in music streaming. This programme includes work on an industry code of practice to improve transparency around licensing and royalties for artists and songwriters. This code of practice is at an advanced stage and is expected to be finalised and published in the coming months. [7]

The underlying issues as to the fairness (or otherwise) of the royalty distribution system are not new and the industry has been discussing them for years. Making “concrete changes”, as Dame Caroline Dinenage MP calls for, requires involvement from all corners of the music industry from record labels to collecting societies and everyone in between.

Further, new challenges are constantly emerging which can shift focus, none more so than the rapid development of AI and the impact it will have on the music industry. And, at a time when the Government also wishes to foster growth in the UK’s creative industries, it remains to be seen whether any such “concrete changes” can effectively be agreed by all the interested parties.

Euan LawsonEuan Lawson
Euan Lawson
Euan Lawson
Charlie EdwardsCharlie Edwards
Charlie Edwards
Charlie Edwards

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