Music stars perform live outside Google HQ in fight to protect future of music online

1 million streams on YouTube generates as little as £540 for the artist

Music stars turned out in force today (Thursday Sept 6) to take on the “greedy” tech giants that are trying to block EU plans to give everyone in the music industry a fairer deal. 

Suede frontman Brett Anderson, Newton Faulkner, Ed Harcourt, Blur’s Dave Rowntree and Crispin Hunt, current BASCA chairman and former Longpigs’ frontman – performed a roaring chorus of Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ outside Google’s London HQ to highlight how even the spare change from passers-by brings in more cash than tens of thousands of streams on Google-owned YouTube.

Ahead of a crucial EU vote on Copyright Directive next week (September 12), musicians, MPs including Deputy Labour Leader and Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson, senior Tory MP Nigel Evans and Lib Dem peer and digital economy spokesperson Lord Clement-Jones and music industry leaders including AIM (Associationof Independent Music) CEO Paul Pacifico and UK Music CEO Michael Dugher gathered outside Google’s King’s Cross base to urge Euro MPs to back a crucial copyright change.

Madeleina Kay, known as EU Supergirl, was also at the event performing her original song – Stand Up For Your (Copy) Rights - about the importance of the Copyright Directive and why Euro MPs should back it. 

At present, some global tech firms, like video platform YouTube, pay just a tiny amount of their multi-billion pound profits to the creators of the music streamed online by millions of music lovers.

Sir Paul McCartney is among the stars who have previously thrown their support behind the campaign and demanded that artists and creators are fairly paid for their work.

Key stats:

  • 1 million streams on YouTube generates as little as £540 for the artist
  • YouTube pays creators a tiny £0.00054p per stream of music
  • Streaming sites like Apply Music and Spotify pay £4.3 billion for music use – way more than YouTube, even though YouTube is the most popular music service in the world.
  • A song needs to be streamed 51.1 million times on YouTube before the creator can make the average UK annual salary of £27,600.

A total of 85% of YouTube’s visitors come to the site for music and YouTube accounts for 84% of video streaming services.  At least £2.33bn of YouTube’s revenue in 2017 was generated by music in 2017, according to MIDiA Research. 

In July, former Beatle Sir Paul called on Euro MPs to back the proposed changes to EU copyright law – specifically Article 13 of the Copyright Directive – which would compel content platforms like YouTube to stop shirking its responsibilities to properly compensate artists for their work. 

In his letter to Euro MPs earlier this year, Sir Paul warned that without this change the future of the music industry could be put at risk, saying: “We need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all.”


Greedy YouTube have made billions of pounds from sharing music content made by other people.  They are bulldozing the interest of creators who continue to get ripped off. It’s time to save music online and get platforms like YouTube to stop dodging their responsibilities. The music industry is a vibrant ecosystem.  Yet some tech firms are just bulldozing their way through the heart of what we do in search of an even fatter profit, regardless of the impact that has on future talent and the ability of people in the music industry to earn a living. The whole music industry is united on this crucial issue and is determined to bring about these changes and safeguard our industry for the future.

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher

The symbol of our #Love Music campaign is a butterfly incorporating a treble clef to represent the fragility of the music industry. Like the ecosystem of the Amazon rainforest, the creators of the music industry are like butterflies that are now under threat from the bulldozers of some uncaring tech firms who are interested only in adding to their huge profits. 

You can find more information about the campaign, as well as our animation, at

About UK Music

UK Music is the umbrella organisation which represents the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry – from artists, musicians, songwriters and composers, to record labels, music managers, music publishers, studio producers, music licensing organisations and the live music industry. The members of UK Music are: AIM, BASCA, BPI, FAC, MMF, MPA, MPG, MU, PPL, PRS for Music and the Live Music Group. 

About PRS for Music

Here for music since 1914, PRS for Music is a world-leading music collective management organisation representing the rights of more than 175,000 talented songwriters, composers and music publishers. Redefining the global standard for music royalties, PRS for Music ensures songwriters and composers are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. 

For 110 years it has grown and protected the rights of the music creator community, paying out royalties with more accuracy, transparency and speed. In 2023, PRS for Music paid out £943.6m in royalties and collected a record £1.08 billion in revenues.

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