We Need a Creators’ Revolution in Music

It is telling how difficult it has proved in the UK for artists and songwriters to find their own voice. The Featured Artists Coalition (artists signed to record labels) has started for sure, but unless I am mistaken its funding comes from PPL, which is owned by the BPI. He who pays the piper…

In the copyright term extension debate some artists did articulate a distinctive position around reversions, but that view was drowned out by PPL lobbying, in the name of artists but for a settlement that transferred money away from young artists and small artist friendly labels and towards dead artists and global corporates. The eventual reversion terms adopted ensured that the only recordings the artists will get back are the ones not worth exploiting.

Composers and songwriters are not immune to the same tensions, with BASCA and the MPA having a spat in the pages of Music Week early 2011 at the same time as they were presenting a unified voice to Government with the MPA and UK Music in response to Hargreaves.

The fact is that copyright lobbying, around both legislation and voluntary regulation, is driven by a very small number of large corporate interests, whose aim seems to be to enhance their control of a sick market rather than provide an open and healthy business environment for all, big, small, old and new.

The original creators and performers, not the Johnny come lately producers, need their hand strengthened, and that will by itself bring more transparency and openness to the music industry. This is clear and obvious to me, and the regressive copyright term extension and the backroom deals being done around the UK’s Digital Economy Act by big corporates and their trade associations are clear evidence if any more were needed.

The creators and performers seem to me to be looking beyond the industry we have to a more open and transparent market for their work. Artists and songwriters rail against the NDAs that their label and publisher representatives insist on inserting into each and every contract; they suffer from opaque reporting and the impossibility of effective audits; and they constantly call for the fetters to be taken off innovation in digital services.

We need a true creators’ revolution in music. That is surely something that the public would understand and support with much more enthusiasm than a Government sponsored crackdown on ISPs in an attempt, probably vain, to protect the profits of a few global corporates.

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