British artists profit more from vinyl sales than YouTube licensing

British artists have hit out at a discrepancy in their income streams which sees many make more money from the sale of resurgent vinyl records than they do from the ‘meagre’ royalties on offer from YouTube.

Vinyl sales have surged for the eighth year on the trot in the UK on the back of a hipster fuelled nostalgia wave with more than 2m of the outsized discs sold in the UK in 2015, the highest figure since 1994.

This dovetails with the growing global popularity of British artists who now account for one in six of all record sales internationally – a record high.

Despite this new found popularity artists have not benefited from a concomitant rise in YouTube earnings, which contributed a ‘meagre’ £24.4m to the industry as a whole in 2015. By comparison vinyl sales generated £25.1m for labels over the same period.

Both numbers are drops in the ocean compared to total revenues for the British music industry however, which totaled £688m – although that itself represented a fall of one per cent.

Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the BPI and the Brit awards, remarked: “… the fact that sales revenues dipped in a record year for British music shows clearly that something is fundamentally broken in the music market, so that artists and the labels that invest in them no longer benefit fairly from growing demand.

“Instead, dominant tech platforms like YouTube are able to abuse liability protections as royalty havens, dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists.”

In response YouTube defended the generosity of its licensing system, saying that it had helped the music industry combat the impact of piracy with its rights management system.

John Glenday

John Glenday is responsible for compiling The Drum's daily morning bulletin and ensuring that overnight breaking news is covered while you're still brushing your teeth. Can also make a mean cup of tea.

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