Record industry wants YouTube and Facebook to pay more royalties

16 Nov 2017

Busker on Grafton Street. Image: 1000 Words/Shutterstock

Internet players are allegedly hurting creative talent and contributing to the decimation of the music industry.

The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) has echoed international calls for internet giants to pay royalties for licensed content that is shared over their networks.

IMRO has called on the Irish Government to work with it to cultivate a national music strategy and to create a cross-Government music group to work with industry to address barriers to growth in the sector. These are chiefly copyright issues, which are seeing music pirated and artists’ livelihoods destroyed by inadequate compensation.

‘You would make more money busking on Grafton Street’

The strategy would also focus on enabling artists to become more digitally literate and entrepreneurial, so that they can profit online.

A report by IMRO and Deloitte, entitled The Socio-Economic Value of Music to Ireland 2017, revealed that the music industry in Ireland contributes €703m to the local economy and employs more than 13,000 people.

Not only that, but digital revenues (€16.3m) have surpassed physical revenues (€16m) for the first time in Ireland.

However, this is little to celebrate when you consider that the recorded music industry has been decimated since the onset of music sharing over the internet in the late 1990s.

A lament for artist incomes

“The recorded music economy was devastated,” IMRO CEO Victor Finn told

“There is a kind of recovery that is being led by streaming platforms like Spotify and Deezer, and these are providing the most growth in revenues recorded.

“But the real issue that the music industry has is platform services that are relying on outdated copyright laws to pay as little as possible to creative industries.”

These platform services include Facebook and Google subsidiary YouTube, where Finn argues that the value of content being shared and uploaded by users is not being adequately shared with artists or labels.

“You would make more money busking on Grafton Street,” he said starkly.

Finn argued that a focus on copyright should represent a core element of a national music strategy in order to foster an environment where artists and legitimate businesses, including YouTube, SoundCloud and Facebook, can flourish.

Such an environment would also create legal certainty for consumers and reasonable remuneration for creators of content.

‘These platform services are unfairly competing with legitimate streaming services like Spotify, who do pay legitimate licence fees’

“In terms of the transfer of value from the traditional and creative industries to the platform services, what IMRO would like to see is a proposal for a copyright directive carried through by the European Commission in Brussels that would assist in rebalancing the revenues that are currently being received by the platform services but are not being shared with the creators.

“The sharing of creative content is creating value for global companies who aren’t sharing the revenues they make from this in any meaningful way at all.

“These platform services are unfairly competing with legitimate streaming services like Spotify, who do pay legitimate licence fees.

“The Irish Government is in a unique position to put this right because all of these platform services have headquarters in Ireland. We can really influence, in a positive way, the onset of EU legislation on digital copyright.

“Ireland has a reputation for the creativity of its artists and we can really strike a fair balance and take a lead in this,” said Finn.

Busker on Grafton Street. Image: 1000 Words/Shutterstock

Updated, 10.36am, 16 November 2017: This article has been amended to clarify that the acronym IMRO stands for the Irish Music Rights Organisation.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years