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Gomez star Tom Gray warns of ‘double whammy of income destruction’ for musicians

Tom Gray (Claire Gray/PA)
Tom Gray (Claire Gray/PA)

Gomez star Tom Gray has warned that musicians face a “double whammy of income destruction” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect both live performances and music licensing.

The singer and guitarist, from the Mercury Prize-winning band, said the crisis has also brought the “inequities” of the streaming system into “stark relief”.

He has launched the Broken Record appeal, which is highlighting “the low royalties many artists, writers and musicians receive from streaming” and raising money for the PRS Emergency Relief Fund and the Musicians’ Union (MU) Coronavirus Hardship Fund.

V99/Gomez
Tom Gray of Gomez (James Arnold/PA)

Gray told the PA news agency: “Under Covid-19, music is dead and we don’t know when it’s coming back. We seriously don’t know when it is coming back.

“The other big thing that people don’t realise is that licensing income is one of the major ways in which musicians and performers make any money, which come from licences which hairdressers and bars and restaurants pay for. And of course, they are not paying for them.

“There’s this double whammy of income destruction that is only going to get worse from where we are here, right now. This is the important thing people need to understand.”

The MU said its members have reported more than £21 million in lost income since the lockdown began on March 23, while the Ivors Academy of songwriters and composer anticipates a loss of £25,000 per member over a six-month period.

According to the Ivors Academy, it would take 62 million Spotify streams for an individual artist to break even on a £25,000 income loss due to the outbreak.

Gray, who is a director of royalty collection society PRS For Music, added: “We are in a crisis and the crisis has brought into stark relief the inequities of the streaming system.

“That has to be looked at, and it certainly has to be looked at by regulators.

“All of the bad actors in this need to be looking at themselves and saying ‘Are we doing the right thing here?’

“We are just trying to make as much noise as possible, get everybody to think about it, get consumers to think about what is happening to their money when they put it into this system, get musicians to learn what their rights are and how their rights are being manipulated.”

Gray said the money made from streaming is “not even beginning to be comparable” to that made from live performance.

He estimated that he had made less than £100 in streaming income over a 12-month period.

The MU and the Ivors Academy have also launched the Keep Music Alive campaign, calling streaming royalties “woefully insufficient” and starting a petition urging the Government to undertake a review of streaming.

On May 24, Broken Record will host an online festival as part of Charlatans singer Tim Burgess’s popular Twitter listening parties, which will feature music by Boy George and singer-songwriter John Grant.

A statement from Spotify said: “The vast majority of revenue generated on Spotify is paid out to rights holders, including labels, publishing companies, and distributors. To date, we’ve paid out 15 billion-plus euros.

“By connecting more creators and listeners, and leveraging the strength of our global reach, Spotify is helping fuel the growth of the music industry overall, which just experienced its fifth straight year of growth.”

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