BURY musician Guy Garvey has warned the current streaming system threatens the future of music in the UK.

The Elbow frontman and BBC 6 Music presenter appeared alongside Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien and singer-songwriter Nadine Shah to give evidence to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee looking into the effects of streaming on the music industry.

He told MPs “tomorrow’s music” was at risk of being lost because many artists were unable to pay their rent or living costs.

Garvey formed Elbow while at sixth-form college in Bury in the early 90s. There has been increased scrutiny of the business models of platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play after artist revenue from live performance was hit by Covid-19.

The Musicians’ Union and Ivors Academy have described streaming royalties as “woefully insufficient”.

According to the Broken Record campaign, artists receive around 16 per cent of the total income from streams, while record companies receive around 41% and streaming services around 29 per cent.

Garvey, whose band is best known for songs including One Day Like This, said: “It’s not true that great art finds its audience.

"This is the reason I got involved in these proceedings. I have been ‘new music’, albeit some time ago when Elbow first started putting records out.

“We were lucky enough to work with record labels that got us from bedrooms and garages to a Mercury nomination on our first album.

"The reason I have come here today, and I can speak for Ed and Nadine here as well, is that the system as it is is threatening the future of music.

“That sounds very dramatic but if musicians can’t afford to pay the rent, if they can’t afford to live, we haven’t got tomorrow’s music in place.”

O’Brien, 52, said unfairness within the music industry had only worsened with the advent of streaming technology.

He told MPs: “The era I was signed with Radiohead, I was signed in 1991 and I call that the analogue era.

“We have got this analogue model that had huge imbalance and unfairness. It’s interesting to see your reactions to the testimonies this morning.

“You are becoming aware of the unfairness and the opaqueness in the business. Then you are bolting on this digital model and it’s not working.”

Shah said the intricacies of how artists were paid through streaming remained “alien” to many musicians, despite its importance to their income.

Speaking from a recording studio in Brixton, south London, Garvey, 46, told MPs the model was “almost a miracle” because of the choice it gave listeners, but that it would only become a true miracle if musicians were equitably paid for their work.

He suggested that equitable remuneration, where performers have a right to receive a share without reference to their label contracts, would go some way in giving musicians a larger portion of streaming revenue.

He also argued music fans wanted to know their music was “ethically sourced” and a fair proportion of money was going to the artist.