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The European Parliament is calling for new rules to bring greater fairness and transparency to music streaming across the European Union

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The European Parliament is calling for new rules to bring greater fairness and transparency to music streaming throughout the European Union, including the proposal for a new bill to require streaming platforms to make their recommendation algorithms transparent.

The law would also require platforms like Spotify to clearly specify when a song has been generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

While Europe has been making moves in this direction for some time now, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted today to adopt a new resolution with 532 votes in favor, 61 against, and 33 abstentions. If a bill is eventually implemented, there will be a series of significant changes in music streaming in the region.

At the heart of this push is the desire to ensure that European artists receive greater visibility and fair relevance on music streaming platforms, similar to efforts in other markets like Canada, which passed the Online Streaming Act to support Canadian artists. While the final details are still far from being defined, this could include imposing quotas to showcase a certain amount of works by European artists.

Additionally, the new EU bill could also "require" streaming platforms to contribute to preventing unfair practices by making their algorithms and recommendation engine more transparent; they argue this will help prevent manipulation of streaming statistics that could be used to reduce artists' earnings.

Moreover, with an increasing amount of music generated by artificial intelligence systems, including so-called "deep fakes" that attempt to imitate established artists, Europe could also impose labeling requirements on streaming platforms to correctly identify such music, similar to what Deezer did in France last year.

Europe's plans also include provisions to ensure a wider distribution of streaming revenues to all artists involved in a recording, not just the main "well-known" artist.

This partly aligns with ongoing efforts in Uruguay, where the government introduced a new law promising "fair and equitable" remuneration for all performers in a streamed work. In that case, Spotify argued that the law would effectively result in double payment to rights holders for the same tracks, leading the music streaming giant to begin downsizing in the country in December. However, the company completely reversed course when the government assured that music streaming platforms would not be required to cover additional costs resulting from the law.

Similarly, France recently introduced a new tax that will impose a fee ranging from 1.5% to 1.75% on all music streaming services to fund a new organization established in 2020 to support the French music industry. In response, Spotify promised to reduce investments in the French market, starting with the withdrawal of support for two music festivals.

This latest move by the European Parliament seeks to address similar concerns on a community scale regarding an imbalance in streaming music revenues that "leaves a majority of authors and performers with very low compensation."

Spanish politician and MEP Iban García del Blanco stated that the Parliament is "giving voice to the concerns of European creators."

"Cultural diversity and ensuring that authors are credited and paid fairly have always been our priorities, which is why we are calling for rules that ensure transparency in the algorithms and recommendation tools used by music streaming services, as well as their use of artificial intelligence tools, placing European authors at the center," del Blanco said in a statement.

Digital Music Europe, a trade organization and lobbying group made up of members such as Spotify, Deezer, and SoundCloud, argues that, contrary to the overall tone of the European Parliament's conclusions, music streaming is "extremely beneficial for the music industry and leads to greater diversity and music discovery."

"The success of music streaming with consumers in Europe and worldwide is driven by the freedom of choice and music discovery, a combination of the on-demand nature of our services and relevant recommendations," said Olivia Regnier, President of Digital Music Europe and Senior Director of European Policy at Spotify, in a statement released to TechCrunch. "As a result, European music is thriving because European fans love European and, above all, local music and consistently choose to listen to it. Therefore, we strongly question the suggestions in the report that regulation is needed in the music streaming sector and ask lawmakers to conduct a thorough analysis of diversity and artistic success in music streaming to obtain objective facts before considering any action."