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Fife singer KT Tunstall says lockdown could ‘decimate’ artists

KT Tunstall outside Meadowside.
KT Tunstall outside Meadowside.

Fife singer KT Tunstall has predicted the coronavirus lockdown will leave some artists facing ruin as she slammed music streaming payments as “completely, chronically, criminally wrong”.

The Black Horse and the Cherry Tree singer spoke to STV entertainment reporter Polly Bartlett about the difficulties facing the industry ahead of an exclusive performance for the STV Children’s Appeal.

The Ivor Novello and Brit Award-winning artist said she did not want to support a culture where people do not pay for music.

“They need to, they should, and musicians should be supported with income when people are enjoying their work,” she said.

In an interview broadcast on the appeal’s Facebook page on Thursday, Tunstall said: “I’ve had a lot of feelings around the situation that we’ve found ourselves in, particularly us musicians because there is a massive, massive problem with how musicians are being paid from streaming – it’s a huge issue.

“My friend Tom Gray from the band Gomez is doing all the number crunching and, basically, from one million streams online, it’s the equivalent of 100,000 albums.

“Now that would’ve given an artist probably a million quid in the past when that was album sales.

“But from one million streams, the record label gets around £980 and the artist gets around £250 and I think the writers get about £80.

“The splits are completely, chronically, criminally wrong and it means that a lot of artists in this lockdown, because they can’t play live, are decimated.”

She said her feelings towards playing live online during the pandemic, as a number or artists have been doing, were complex.

“I don’t really want to be part of this thing where people just get music for free,” she said.

“It takes a lot to make it, it takes a lot to create it and put it out, it takes a lot of money and energy to make that work.

“So I’m really only engaging at the moment in charity work where it is fundraising and at least the music is bringing value to the experiences, meaning that people are buying a ticket but it’s going to charity instead of me.”

She added: “I really feel for a lot of the new artists who don’t have a ‘Suddenly I See’ or a ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ that’s making them income all the time.”

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