Performers speak up for their rights in the big IP debate

November 2015

Artistes, music publishing, recorded music, internet


The Featured Artists Coalition and the globally-focused International Artists Organisation have issued an urgent call to the European Parliament demanding it ensure that performer rights be included in the European Union’s current review of copyright law. The move comes as part of the campaign called Artists In Europe which is a bid to “ensure that protection for artists’ intellectual property sits at the heart of the new legislation”.
Continuing recent debates in the artist and songwriter communities, the FAC and IAO say that to achieve a “vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age” both the business and law-makers need to ensure there is transparency throughout the music value chain and that there is an enhanced duty of care from corporations so that artists know their interests are protected. Artists should also share in the profits from all the ways their music is exploited.
FAC boss Paul Pacifico says: “To ensure a vibrant creative cultural music industry in the digital age, it is essential that the review of copyright currently underway in Europe puts the rights of creators and artists front and centre of any new legislation. If not, we stand to lose an essential part of our revenues. In the digital world, consumers are switching to digital and using on-demand streaming platforms to replace radio-like services. However, as consumers transition from old world to new, our remuneration rights fall away. Unless we act now, we may lose them forever”.
Meanwhile FAC board member and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason adds: “Artists are not looking to fight technology, or the fantastic access digital services and technology gives music fans. We want to foster innovation and push the uptake of these new and exciting opportunities for communication and creativity. However, we must make sure that the system pays back the artists of the future whose hard work and talent will make the services successful for the long term”.
In the US, Music Revolt is aiming to persuade Congress to revise the now outdated ‘Payola’ laws first passed in 1960 to be an effective tool for the digital age and create a free marketplace:  Music Revolt’s goals include: eliminating illegal price fixing and allowing musicians to charge whatever they want and be in control of the price of their music; allowing fair, transparent contracts between musicians and record labels or publishers, giving musicians the power to terminate previous contracts that don’t benefit them; and educating musicians about the business and legal aspects of the industry.


And a fascinating blog by ex PRS for Music employee Mark Lawrence, now boss at dance and electronic music trade body AFEM and set in the context of the legal action brought by PRS against SoundCloud, where Mark opines that historically: “a powerful tool made sure that record labels delivered the right data to the music industry: a piece of paper or an electronic file called ‘label copy’. This contained details about each recording: track durations, credits, artist names, writer names, producers and publishers (i.e. metadata) – a licence to manufacture records could not be obtained without it” but adding “Ten years ago, as the first download and streaming services emerged, most societies moved away from licencing labels and instead started licensing YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Beatport and Traxsource directly – essentially licensing the record shops not the record labels .… and with that single decision the record labels were no longer responsible as the gatekeepers of data in the music industry. With the death of label copy as the mandatory source of data came the death of accurate metadata – and the start of a wild west when it came to royalty payments” before going on to say “The PRS for Music v SoundCloud legal action should be the landmark case for data driven allocation of publishing income. The moment when the music industry says ‘enough!’. It should be the moment when one writer and/or one artist getting one play can be confident of earning one payment, however small.”  Well worth a read here.
The Fair Internet for Performers campaign website says:  “performers are still not fairly rewarded when their performances are exploited via online on demand services. Most of them receive an all-inclusive fee at the time of the recording for all type of exploitation of their performances. Others receive an insufficient proportional remuneration.
Together we call upon the European institutions to create a sustainable cultural and creative sector where performers get a fair share of online revenues, through an unwaivable remuneration right for digital uses of their work, collected from the users who make the performances available on demand and subject to mandatory collective management.


You think that performers should get a fair share? Then get involved!”
More here:
How much is a Stream Actually Worth?


The MMF’s Dissecting the Digital Dollar is a major new report commissioned by the UK’s Music Managers Forum which sets out to explain – once and for all – how streaming services are licensed and how digital income is shared between each stakeholder in the wider music community.


The Music Tank Insight Paper:  Making Available, Communication To The Public & User Interactivity can be obtained as a free PDF download from this link: Aside from the report making 4 recommendations, the report hosts a detailed study of a little understood/ little known right which is actually pivotal in determining creators’ royalty payments from digital platforms.  Given the regular outpourings of ‘unfair’ from the creator community with regards their statements from streaming platforms, it does raise a central question as to whether technically speaking, rightsholders have actually legally obtained this right necessary in granting licenses to digital platforms.
In July 2015 The Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) released an in-depth study focused on promoting fairness and transparency within the music industry.  Originating under BerkleeICE’s Rethink Music initiative and entitled “Fair Music: Transparency and Money Flows in the Music Industry” the report is the culmination of a year-long examination of the $45 billion global music business and explores the underlying challenges within the current compensation structure while proposing solutions to improve licensing, revenue transparency and cash flow for musicians.


Pandora has filed an appeal to the rate court determination handed down by Judge Stanton earlier this year, in which he ruled that Pandora should pay the performance rights organization (PRO) 2.5 percent of its revenue. At the very same court, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld ASCAP’s rate of 1.85 percent earlier this year.

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