Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Featured Artist Manifesto

Searching round for something else I found a news article I'd missed on the launch of the Featured Artist Coalition - a trade and lobby group set up to lobby for artists rights within the music industry. The groups premise is that featured artists - the main name on the cover - are what sell music, but that artists in fact get a bad deal from the music companies and that no-one is representing artists interests as the industry moves into the digital age. (You might wonder what the musician's union has been doing for the last fifty years?)

While viewpoints can differ on what are sensible limits for copyright I find a lot to sympathise with in their manifesto:
  • artists rights should be licensed not assigned - meaning artists keep rights to their work
  • licensing should be fixed term and lapse back to the artist
  • artists should get paid on the same terms as songwriters (who get paid whenever their work is played in a cinema showing for instance)
  • copyright owners should be obliged to 'use it or lose it' preventing work being lost to the public (with consequent loss of earnings for the artist)

Last but not least they also support a key plank of Piratpartiet's policy on copyright - that it should not be a criminal act to share music for non commercial use. They specifically distance themselves from the music industry making villains of their customers.

As a lobby organisation they will have two things working in their favour... first that they are fronted by a number of well known pop celebrities including Billy Bragg, Jools Holland, David Gray, and the amazing Annie Lennox (The clip is there in sympathy for all those used and abused artists.. ;-)

The second is that membership is a mere 5% of an artists UK performing rights income - which should give them a healthy warchest to lobby from. (That was 5% tax deductable so the tax payer will be paying for a chunk of their lobbying activities... which goes a bit against the grain).

Footnote: They estimate an average artist would pay a few hundred pounds a year - equivalent to about £8000 gross income. Most artists dont make enough to live on then......

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