Bill that would have hit record company profits in the UK rejected by British government

Kevin Brennan MP speaking in the UK's House Of Commons today (December 3)

It proposed a set of legislation that could have sucked substantial amounts of annual revenue away from UK record companies each year – but today (December 3) the so-called ‘Brennan bill’ has failed to pass in a chamber of the British Parliament.

The bill contained a number of proposals that would, in essence, have monetarily benefitted artists and featured performers to the detriment of record labels with whom these artists had signed contracts.

Proposed by Labour politician Kevin Brennan MP, the headline suggestion of the ‘Brennan bill’ was the introduction of ‘Equitable Remuneration’ into UK law.

The adoption of this ER legislation would have seen a proportion of an artist / musician’s streaming revenues bypass their label agreements (including unrecouped balances) and be paid to the performer direct.

The notion of introducing ‘Equitable Remuneration’ in the UK was previously supported by artists including Paul McCartney, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and Stevie Nicks – but fiercely opposed by indie and major labels, who argued it would “dramatically shrink the total pool of royalties available to labels and artists”.

The ‘Brennan bill’ also called for a ‘Right of Revocation’ that would have meant songwriters (‘authors’) and artists would be able to apply to reclaim their copyrights from their publisher or record labels after a 20 year period – even if the artist/writer in question had previously inked a deal that signed away those rights in perpetuity.

The bill had a regulatory mountain to climb: If British politicians in the House of Commons had voted in favor of it this afternoon in London, it would have then faced a further review and additional vote by elected officials.

And even if it cleared those proceedings, the bill would have then been additionally debated – in search of another approval – by a different set of British lawmakers, in the House Of Lords.

But things didn’t get that far: This morning in Parliament, British government MPs rejected progressing the bill to these further stages. It is now unlikely to make further progress as a result.

Artist advocate Tom Gray – whose #BrokenRecord campaign provided impetus for the creation of the ‘Brennan bill’ – predicted before today’s Parliamentary debate over the bill that this would be the likely outcome.

He wrote prior to this morning’s ‘Brennan bill’ session: “This bill was always unlikely to pass. A sliver of a chance maybe. So if it doesn’t (and, in all likeliness, it won’t) don’t consider this a failure. Now constituency MPs everywhere get this issue.

“We have a process which the government is locked into, so the bill will have served as a brilliant campaigning tool, raised awareness and kept us up the agenda.”

The focus of songwriter and artist rights campaigners will now likely switch to a ‘market study’ into the British music industry, covering the economics of streaming, being launched by the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA).

That study is separate to an investigation that the CMA is currently conducting into Sony Music‘s acquisition of AWAL.

The BPI, which represents the major record companies in the UK, has previously argued that the adoption of the ‘Brennan bill’ – particularly the Equitable Remuneration element of it – would “dramatically shrink the total pool of royalties available to labels and artists”.

Geoff Taylor, CEO BPI & BRIT Awards, said today: “As many contributions to the debate in Parliament made clear, Mr Brennan’s Bill, though well-intentioned, is not the right way forward for British music.

“The UK’s record labels – including hundreds of independents around the country – are committed to supporting their artists’ creative vision and building their global audience, so that many more reap the benefits of streaming success. The Bill’s proposals would undermine the essential investment that labels provide, harming new talent and future artists and the long term competitiveness of British music.

“We have listened to the arguments made across the debate and will engage positively and proactively with the process Government has put in place to look for joint solutions to ensure the streaming market continues to grow and sustain the careers of many more artists.”Music Business Worldwide