The full statement from BPI’s Sophie Jones reads as follows: “The BPI and its record label members have offered the Musicians’ Union a historically high increase of nearly 40% in the minimum fees paid to session musicians working on pop and rock recordings (15% for classical, ie working with orchestras).
“This unprecedented rise addresses the fact that session musician earnings have not increased since 2019, and have not risen as quickly as those of artists and songwriters in the streaming era. This offer also recognises the cost of living challenges faced by all workers, and is well above many of the negotiated settlements being reached in other parts of the economy.
“It is disappointing that the MU declined to even put this offer to its members to make them aware and let them have their say, and simply dismissed it – citing technical procedures.
“The demands that the MU are making on top of this generous deal, including royalty payments on past recordings where musicians have already been paid on agreed terms, are neither viable nor reasonable.
“What the MU is asking would ultimately impact featured artist and songwriter earnings while also reducing the ability of labels to support future talent; and it ignores the way in which session musicians are paid – free to work with whomever they choose, usually as part of a portfolio career, and via a guaranteed upfront fee that is paid irrespective of a recording’s success or it even being released at all.
“If you look to the world of film and TV for comparisons, this move would be like film companies being asked to retrospectively pay a royalty to all the cast and extras engaged to work on a project.
“The offer we have made would benefit session musicians with a guaranteed pay rise whilst enabling record companies to also support featured artists and future investment.
“At a time when our industry faces many common challenges, not least with AI, which poses a particular threat to musician livelihoods, it is vital that we all work together in a spirit of collaboration to grow the UK music market and music exports to the benefit of all. We urge the MU to think again and consult their members on this significant offer.”