New lobby group for featured artists

November 2008

Artists, record labels

Hot on the heels of British Music Rights’new UK Music initiative, over sixty artists have signed up to (another) new music industry body – this time the Featured Artists’ Coalition launched at theOctoberIn The City conference in Manchester. ´Featured artists´ signed up to the new body include Radiohead, Robbie Williams, Iron Maiden, The Verve, Kaiser Chiefs, David Gilmour, Billy Bragg, Klaxons and Kate Nash. The body will lobby primarily on copyright issues, which will see it joining with the rest of the recorded music community in demanding an extension of the recorded copyright, but also taking on the record companies in a bid to increase the rights and controls artists have over their recordings, and to secure artists a cut of any upfront payments labels receive in deals that are done based on the value of their recording catalogues (eg the upfront payments – in cash or equity – labels often receive from new download services in a bid to secure their involvement). The Coalition will also advocate the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy, whereby artists who find their labels are unwilling or unable to make their music commercially available could regain control of the recordings, so they can do so themselves. The Coalition has identified six aims for its lobbying activity

1. An agreement by the music industry that artists should receive fair compensation whenever their business partners receive an economic return from the exploitation of the artists’ work.
2. All transfers of copyright should be by licence rather than by assignment, and limited to 35 years.
3. The ‘making available’ right should be monetized on behalf of featured artistes and all other performers.
4. Rights’ owners to be obliged to follow a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to the copyrights they control.
5. The rights for performers should be the same as those for authors (songwriters, lyricists and composers).
6. A change to UK copyright law which will end the commercial exploitation of unlicensed music purporting to be used in conjunction with ‘critical reviews’ (in effect an amendment to the ´fair dealing´ laws.

Brian Message, co-manager of Radiohead and Kate Nash, told CMU Daily “It is time for artists to have a strong collective voice to stand up for their interests. The digital landscape is changing fast and new deals are being struck all the time, but all too often without reference to the people who actually make the music. Just look at the recent MoU on file-sharing between labels, government and the ISPs. Artists were not involved. The Featured Artists’ Coalitiowill help all artists, young and old, well-known or not, drive overdue change through the industry in their interests and those of fans”.

The Verve ‘s manager, Jazz Summers, added:”The Featured Artists’ Coalition is an organisation for artists, which will be run by artists. It will ensure that in future the voice of artists is properly heard in discussions with music and technology companies, trade organisations and most importantly, with government. It will also seek to improve the treatment of artists within the business and campaign to update laws and practices that better reflect the new music landscape. Digital technology gives artists the opportunity to control their future – this is the time to seize that opportunity”.

See CMU Daily (6th October) and Billboard at

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