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Group Fitness and Music Copyright

Nile Rogers was in the news recently, as he was a witness on a Parliamentary Committee looking into the impact of streaming on musician revenues. The Economics of Music Streaming Inquiry is looking into the huge changes that have occurred in the music industry over the last twenty years, as the consumer has moved from the consumption of music from vinyl to tape, then CD and on to digital streaming.

I have been a fan of Nile Rogers since I was a very small child, when I was a full-on disco king, both in my bedroom at home and especially at the holiday BBQ disco. I particularly loved his group Chic and their massive catalogue of hits. To understand this man’s effect on the music industry as a whole, take a look at the sheer volume of other tunes he has produced over the years. (e.g Like A Virgin, Let’s Dance and Get Lucky!)

The fact that he has no idea who I am and that we have never met, in no way reduces the significance of our life-long relationship. It was Nile and later the Rave music scene in the early 90s that inspired me to become a DJ and then create music myself too. Euphoric and uplifting music was in my blood and I was desperate to make tunes, just like my dance music favourites of the time Altern-8, the Prodigy and Dream Frequency.

By 2010, I was having some great success in the EDM scene. DJing in clubs all around the UK and producing my own tracks. Working with my production partners Barry and Claire, we made two different types of dance music. One style was very fast, around 170bpm and was called ‘Hardcore’. This scene was very popular at the time, with our ‘Hardcore’ tracks appearing on internationally successful compilation albums, some of which were in the top 10 of the album chart.

We then started making music for the fitness industry through a company called Power Music in the USA. They specialise in music for fitness use, allowing instructors to select remixes at a variety of BPM depending on the class type. Their tracks (including 1 of mine) are consistently used by Les Mills for their international programmes like Body Pump and Attack.

The period between 2005 and 2010 was probably the height of my income from music. As Nile explained to the committee, streaming has resulted in a vast decline in income for all musicians, even ones with millions of plays on Spotify and followers on Instagram. Spotify’s pay per stream varies in different countries and regions, but the average is £0.003 per stream. Despite producing a track on a Katy Perry EP remix album, I have received very little for that.

The average price of a CD album in 1990 was £12. So you need 400,000 streams to receive the same income as one album sale. Of course, the musician wouldn’t have received all of the income back in 1990, but it certainly illustrates the point about the devaluation in revenue for the work of musical artists, that has taken place over the last 30 years.

There are other downsides to Spotify from a user point of view, which can counterbalance the low-cost advantage, especially if you are a Group Exercise professional or DJ. The most important negative is that playing Spotify publicly is actually against the first Term and Condition listed on their site! The fact is, you are not licensed to use Spotify in your classes, nor to DJ music for public consumption.

There is also the issue of streaming quality, which I have tested in a professional music studio. The sound comes out quieter and thinner, even with the premium settings activated. Tracks are also too short and getting shorter! Making them difficult to use for both fitness and DJing!

Although I am less (financially) invested in music than a decade ago. I would encourage you to purchase your tracks outright. This will mean you will end up with longer, better quality versions of your tracks but more importantly, it will also ensure that the future Nile Rogers, The Prodigy or Calvin Harris, don’t decide to do something more lucrative instead!

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