Sir Paul McCartney has urged MEPs to support proposed changes to EU copyright law, which he believes will force online upload platforms to pay songwriters and performers fairly for use of their work.
The former Beatles musician, 76, has written an open letter to MEPs ahead of a key vote in the European Parliament on Thursday.
Sir Paul wrote: “Music and culture matter. They are a heart and soul. But they don’t just happen; they demand the hard work of so many people.
“Importantly, music also creates jobs and economic growth and digital innovation across Europe.
“Unfortunately the value gap jeopardises the music ecosystem. We need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all.
“But today some user upload content platforms refuse to compensate artists and all music creators fairly for their work, while they exploit it for their own profit.
“The value gap is that gulf between the value these platforms derive from music and the value they pay creators.”
He added that the proposed legislative changes would assure a sustainable future for the music industry.
He finished the letter by telling MEPs: “You hold in your hands the future of music here in Europe.”
The singer has joined more than 1,300 artists, including Placido Domingo and James Blunt, in calling for politicians to vote for change.
His letter follows the British Phonographic Industry chief executive Geoff Taylor’s claim that the future of the next Stormzy and Dua Lipa is at stake.
One of the potential law changes centres around a piece of draft legislation known as Article 13.
It suggests websites can continue to house music videos but must ensure that copyrighted works are not available where a licence has not been agreed for its use.
Mr Taylor said that unless the changes are backed, UK recorded music revenues would remain significantly less than their peak of 20 years ago.
Lobby groups have criticised the proposed changes, saying they risk the future of remixes and memes, typically humorous edits of short videos spread by online users.
Campaigners say that if Article 13 is passed it will prevent free and creative sharing of content on the internet.
Many leading technology figures, including Jimmy Wales, co-founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, have also voiced their opposition.
A spokesman for Google, which owns YouTube, said: “The success of our partners has always been core to our work at YouTube, and to delivering great services for people.
“That’s why we have music licensing agreements all over the world, including in Europe.
“Through these agreements, we pay the majority of our revenue to partners, amounting to over a billion dollars for the music industry in the last 12 months.
“We’ve always believed there’s a better way than this proposal, and that innovation and partnership are the keys to a successful, diverse and sustainable creative sector in the EU.
“For both European creators and consumers, it’s vital to preserve the principles of linking, sharing and creativity on which so much of the web’s success is built.”