UK music streaming market faces competition scrutiny

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Britain’s competition watchdog is to launch a market study into the music streaming market to ensure it is competitive, after dramatic changes to the industry over the past decade.

The Competition and Markets Authority said the music industry had evolved “almost beyond recognition”, with streaming accounting for more than 80% of all music listened to in the UK. Andrea Coscelli, the CMA chief executive, said a market study would help the regulator understand these changes.

Coscelli said: “The UK has a love affair with music and is home to many of the world’s most popular artists. We want to do everything we can to ensure that this sector is competitive, thriving and works in the interests of music lovers.

Related: More than a third of UK music industry workers lost jobs in 2020

“A market study will help us to understand these radical changes and build a view as to whether competition in this sector is working well or whether further action needs to be taken.”

The regulator is carrying out further work to define the final scope of the market study, before formally launching it “as soon as possible”.

Separate to the market study, an independent CMA panel is investigating Sony’s $430m (£312m) acquisition of the artist and label services provider AWAL, which has released music by artists including Little Simz, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator Finneas.

The CMA said last month the distribution of recorded music in the UK was dominated by three big groups – Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music – and the takeover could lead to worse deals for musicians. Had it not gone ahead, AWAL could have continued to grow into a significant alternative competitor, the watchdog argued.

The music streaming investigation is the regulator’s latest step in its push to increase competition in digital markets.

It is investigating Amazon and Google over concerns that the tech companies have not done enough to tackle the widespread problem of fake reviews on their websites. The CMA launched a digital markets unit in April, which is operating in shadow form pending legislation that will provide it with its full powers.

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