CHANCES are, Sir Lucian Grainge is going to have a decent Christmas. The Guardian has reported that the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company, is in line to earn more in 2021 than the combined income of all – that’s ALL – UK songwriters from streams and sales in 2019.

Now I know Adele didn’t have a record out in 2019, but even so, that’s pretty remarkable.

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has calculated that UK composers and lyricists earned £150 million from downloads and sales two years ago. Grainge is in line for a one-off bonus estimated to be worth around £123m following UMG’s successful stock flotation in September and a share sale to Chinese company which should push his personal income this year above that 2019 figure.

Perhaps understandably, not everyone is thrilled at the news. “This is evidence of a business which is completely out of control,” Crispin Hunt, the songwriter, producer, one-time front man of 1990s band Longpigs and chairman of the Ivors Academy, a professional association for music writers in the UK, suggested on hearing the news. “For songwriters who are struggling to make a living, there’s only one word for it – obscene.”

I think that it’s safe to say that definitely comes under the heading of “fair comment”.

Grainge is clearly a hugely successful businessman. UMG is said to be worth somewhere in the region of $50bn (£37.3bn), significantly more than it was when he took up the reins 10 years ago. Still, is he worth five Paul McCartneys (Macca’s income last year is estimated to be around £27m)?

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Even MPs are taking notice of this inequity. “It’s shocking that record label owners are earning more out of artists’ works than the artists themselves,” Conservative MP Esther McVey told the Guardian. “We’ve got to put this right, to fix streaming so that it pays more like radio and get back to the notion of fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

A cross-party bill on this issue is set to be heard in Parliament at the start of next month.

Streaming is just the latest example of how the people who actually make the music we listen to find themselves at the bottom of the pile when it comes to payment. It was ever thus, you might say. But that doesn’t make it right.

UK record labels earn £736.5 million from streaming. Currently artists receive only 16 per cent of streaming royalties. And while the likes of Ed Sheeran do OK financially out of streaming, other artists earn a pittance from the streaming of their work. So, it must be galling to read of Grainge’s payday.

As Tom Gray, who founded the #BrokenRecord campaign, tweeted yesterday, “To earn the same amount as the CEO of Universal this year a solo artist on a standard contract would require: 180,000,000,000 streams That’s right, 180 BILLION!”

Musicians have not had their problems to seek of late. The pandemic has devastated gigs which is the main source of income for most musicians and the ongoing fallout from Brexit and the government’s clear lack of interest in helping musicians play in Europe hasn't helped (wonder if Esther McVey might like to do something about that too).

But the news of Sir Lucian Grainge’s income is one of those moments where we surely need to recognise that this is not right, that the industry needs to get its house in order and if they won’t then they should be made to.