To the casual observer, musicians probably seem like a disorganized bunch. Unlike doctors or lawyers, there are no qualifying exams or prerequisites that certify a musician’s level of “professionalism.” On a group level, there is no central organization that represents their collective interests.
But that’s not the case. In addition to record labels, booking agents, managers and other teammates, musicians and songwriters can align with a vast array of music-related organizations that serve a number of purposes, everything from performance rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange, to unions like AFM and SAG-AFTRA, to genre- or role-based organizations like Folk Alliance, Chamber Music America, or the Songwriters Guild.
As musicians and advocates, we at FMC know that these organizations serve an important purpose, and we have a sense that membership makes a difference. But in what ways? Do musicians that belong to certain organizations participate in more revenue streams? Do they make more money because of these allegiances? Or is the inverse true; do particular types of work make it possible and/or necessary for musicians to join certain organizations?
On July 31, the Canadian government approved a new set of fees that may make it prohibitively expensive for international bands to play bars and restaurants in their country. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment Social Development & Multiculturalism, announced the change on Aug. 7, but it’s taken a few weeks and a widely shared article by the Calgary Herald for talent buyers to get wind of the changes and to appreciate their effect on the music industry.
Now that the word is out, outraged music fans have been signing a petition against the fees by the thousands, claiming that “this will inevitably cripple small music venues and small business talent buyers.”
A US-based band is recording an album of material they wrote, but wants one of the tracks to be a cover of The Rolling Stones’ song “Brown Sugar”, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The band sells all 500 vinyl copies of the album plus 500 downloads on iTunes to US customers. According to the current statutory rates, how much does this 4 minute, 30 second-long cover of “Brown Sugar” generate in mechanical royalties, based on these sales?
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Aimee Mann is the latest artist to enter the digital royalties battle. Mann recently filed a lawsuit against the company MediaNet, demanding statutory damages for copyright infringement of around 120 songs. If she wins, Mann could be awarded up to $18 million dollars in damages.
Mann’s lawsuit alleges that around 120 of her songs are being provided to various online radio sources by MediaNet, but the company does not have the rights to her songs, and has not compensated her for plays since September, 2005. Mann admits that in 2003 she entered into a license agreement with MediaNet, but she sent a termination notice in 2005. After her attempt to terminate the agreement, MediaNet allegedly continued to distribute her music, sending only a $20 advance in March 2013 for the last eight years, which Mann promptly returned.
This weekend, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich, collaborators in the band Atoms For Peace, made waves by pulling their material from streaming music service Spotify. Thom and Nigel explained that, in their view, Spotify’s business model doesn’t make sense for new artists. Godrich called the act a “small meaningless rebellion,” tweeting that, “small labels and new artists can’t even keep their lights on.
Are we willing to pay for creativity anymore? Musical hero Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame isn’t so sure. Yorke is boycotting the super music streaming service Spotify with his latest album “Amok.” Says Spotify doesn’t pay new young musicians enough to survive on. Fractions of a penny per digital listen. Pauper wages.
Are you a musician or songwriter? Are you an actor or filmmaker? A dancer? Visual artist? Writer? No matter what type of artist you are, we have a question for you: do you currently have health insurance?
From today until August 31, 2013, Future of Music Coalition, Fractured Atlas and the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) are joining forces with artist service organizations across the country to take the pulse of the artist community regarding access to health insurance via an online survey.read more
Streaming music services such as Pandora and Spotify promise a seemingly limitless song selection for listeners and actual royalties for artists. But amid growing complaints from artists that the Internet music services are hardly ideal for their bottom line, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has become the best-known artist to pull his music from Spotify. read more
Add Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to the list of high profile musicians protesting the amount of pay artists get from Spotify. Yorke pulled two albums from Spotify, Tweeting that he was quote “standing up for our fellow musicians.”
The growing popularity of music subscription services has sparked a debate about compensation and the worth of exposure. Casey Rae, deputy director at the Future of Music Coalition , an advocacy group for artists in the digital age, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss.