Starting out as studio assistant for songwriter Andy Hill, Pete went on to produce four albums with Def Leppard including their UK hit When Love and Hate Collide. He joined PRS in 1999 after co-writing tracks with the band and has focussed on songwriting since 2000.
Hooking up with co-writer Charlie Grant, their first hit was Come Get Some by Rooster (UK number seven) followed by cuts with Son of Dork (UK number three), Simply Red (Italian number two), Cliff Richard (UK number three), Melanie C and Jason Donovan. Alarm bells began to ring in 2010 when the song Superman by Joe Brooks generated very little income from YouTube despite 27 million streams.
In an attempt to alert the songwriting community to the YouTube problem Pete joined the PRS for Music Writer Member Operations Group in 2012 and was later elected to the SEC at what was then BASCA. While at BASCA he asked PRS to think twice before allowing YouTube to sponsor music business awards and events. It was surely wrong to be drinking champagne paid for by companies who weren’t paying songwriters the market rate for their work.
Pete attended the first meeting that PRS set up between songwriters and YouTube. Every time a writer flagged up a specific example of the pitiful income they’d earned from millions of streams, the YouTube team suggested it must be a mistake and promised that they’d look into it. We’re still waiting.
Pete recently submitted written evidence to the DCMS ‘Economics of Streaming’ inquiry.
Pete has been writing with artists including Who’s Molly? and Emma Stevens and has set up a label. He tries to offset low streaming income by landing synchs with Ford, Oral B, Mercedes Benz, Universal Pictures, McDonald’s, Sky and BT Sports.
A year of COVID-19 has exposed exactly how little songwriters get paid for streaming. The #brokenrecord campaign has brilliantly given us a once in a generation chance to fight for change. It’s crucial that this opportunity isn’t wasted.
YouTube has now avoided paying songwriters the market rate for 16 years. When they launched, Olivia Rodrigo was two years old and a long way from getting her ‘drivers license’. This has gone on for far too long.
YouTube are earning over $1.5 billion a month and account for more than 50% of all music streamed in the world, so how come they only accounted for 1.4% of my PRS earnings in the last year? Their claims that they pay billions to the music industry means nothing to songwriters who see precisely how little we get every quarter in our PRS statements. We need a fair share of the income generated by our work.
China continues to avoid paying the market rate for streaming music. Pre-COVID-19, the Chinese film industry generated $6 billion a year in box office takings, but songwriters are still playing catch up. An unsigned artist I write with had half a billion streams in China and yet the PRS income from this wouldn’t buy a round of drinks. If China can deliver $450m back to Disney for Avengers: Endgame why can’t similar mechanisms be put in place for our music?
We also need to address media companies offering buyouts for music, increased diversity on the Members’ Council and in the membership, and better dialogue between songwriter members and the Council. Songwriters want answers and PRS should provide them.
Please vote for me if you want a passionate, articulate songwriter on the Council who shares your frustrations and wants to make sure we earn the income we deserve.