The mooted new music streaming service from the BBC took up a page in the Beeb’s pre-Charter report this week and was even teased by Director General Tony Hall in his accompanying speech on Monday (07/09).
However, MBW understands that all three major labels are some way off licensing it – and have expressed early concerns about permitting a completely free music streaming service to use their catalogue.
As explained in the BBC’s British, Bold, Creative report this week, the ‘New Music Discovery Service’ would make the 50,000 tracks broadcast by the BBC every month available to stream for a limited period.
This would include tracks from BBC sessions such as Radio 1’s Live Lounge as well as standard label-issued recordings.
The report claimed: “We have built a digital music proposal with the music industry which builds on BBC Music’s Playlister.”
But despite Universal, Sony and Warner’s keenness to back the BBC, we’re told that all three are reluctant to license a free streaming platform without receiving some form of additional compensation.
“We’re at what you’d call ‘informal discussion’ stage – we’ve read the proposal and there are definitely issues to work out,” one source told MBW. “We remain huge supporters of the BBC.”
“WE VERY MUCH AND SUPPORT THE BBC, BUT CLEARLY WE DON’T LIKE THE IDEA OF GIVING MUSIC AWAY FOR NOTHING.”
Another added: “Any suggestion that this is happening soon is premature. We very much support the BBC and we appreciate the great things it does for our industry. But clearly we don’t like the idea of giving music away for nothing.”
MBW understands that the independent label community has similar concerns, and was surprised to see the BBC reveal its plans to the public in the British, Bold Creative report.
The copyright for BBC broadcasts of recorded music are usually covered by a blanket performance license with PPL.
It appears likely that the labels will at least want this license amended – or perhaps agree a direct additional licence – if a fully-fledged BBC streaming service is to then make their tracks available to listeners on-demand.
A BBC spokesperson told MBW: “The BBC is currently the single biggest licensee of music in the UK and we are in ongoing discussions with the industry about the service.”
Those discussions have echoes of the BBC’s recent licensing negotiation with mechanical rights holder Wixen UK, which saw artists like Neil Young and The Doors temporarily blacklisted from the Beeb’s playlists.
Publisher Wixen noted that some of its songwriter clients had voluntarily removed their mechanical rights from MCPS’ blanket agreement with the BBC.
The BBC’s new iPlayer update, which allows users to cache broadcasts, including music – effectively downloading them for a limited period – and therefore required clearance of a mechanical right.