Musicians Realize They Need Their Own Lobbying Group

from the but-will-it-be-more-of-the-same? dept

Many people realized long ago, that contrary to what the RIAA (and the politicians it supports) states, the RIAA is not representing the interests of “the music industry,” but rather the interests of a few big record labels. Those interests are often directly at odds with the actual musicians. It’s almost amazing it’s taken this long, but a bunch of musicians, including Radiohead, are now forming their own lobbying/bargaining group, called the Featured Artists’ Coalition. One of the goals, actually, is to put pressure on the record labels to allow the musicians to retain the copyright on their music, rather than handing it over to the labels. At the very least, it ought to be interesting to see the two of them fight this out. Though, my fear is that this new group really just promotes more of the same, and doesn’t focus on new business model opportunities, but again looks for ways to “protect” rather than to innovate.

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Comments on “Musicians Realize They Need Their Own Lobbying Group”

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21 Comments
SteveD says:

The BPI not the RIAA

Not that it makes much difference, but its the BPI in this case rather then the RIAA.

In any case its interesting that a lot of the more aggressive attempts to reform the industry, particularly at EMI (bought out by Private Equity firm Terra Firma) have resulted in a serious backlash from artists.

As Mike notes, lobbying groups like this might be destructive for big music in the long term, but the quote from the BPI hints that industry insiders aren’t too concerned for how much power this coalition might wield.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The BPI not the RIAA

They may not be worried about their immediate power, but as the group grows in size it will start to hurt them alot more, as they will be less and less able to use the “Its all for the artists” lobbying excuse, as the musicians coalition can turn around and say that its obviously not, because we are the artitists and we dont want it.

SteveD says:

Re: Re: The BPI not the RIAA

True, but then that really depends on what the artists want. Many of them would be quite happy to see Piracy being squished as long as it didn’t mean suing any of their fans directly.

All of this has the same feeling as the writers strike in the US a while back; more negotiating power to the artists is really only a good thing if they have the business savvy make the right decisions. Many don’t understand the way things are changing any more then the labels.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Though, my fear is that this new group really just promotes more of the same, and doesn’t focus on new business model opportunities, but again looks for ways to “protect” rather than to innovate.

As you stated, their first goal is to get their copyrights back. Without those, it would be impossible for them to create any innovative modern business model without getting the music industry’s prior permission.

And this will be very interesting because the music industry’s current argument is that they’re in it for the artist. How are they going to spin that argument when it is the artist who wants his copyright back? Well, they won’t spin it, they’ll just dump a boat load of cash on Congress, that’s for sure.

Twinrova says:

From worse... to bad?

“One of the goals, actually, is to put pressure on the record labels to allow the musicians to retain the copyright on their music, rather than handing it over to the labels.”

Future: “This is the FAC and we’ve noticed you’re sharing files. We’re suing you. Bend over, give us $20,000 per song, and all will be well.”

From the frying pan, into the fire.

Of course, this is just speculation, but why do I get the notion this new formation is about taking over RIAA’s position such that the lawsuits are in favor of the musician, rather than the recording industry?

Call me pessimistic, but you can thank Metallica for just how far a musician will go to retain what they feel is theirs, financially.

Anonymous Coward says:

Business models are nice, but ultimately irrelevant when you can own politicians and get laws passed. You are assuming that this is a “fair” system, when it is not. This applies in and out of copyright.

Collective bargaining power for musicians is important if you want to level the playing field between musicians and the labels. Copyright czar? Check. Sonny Bono? Check. Make webcasting prohibitive? Check. And so forth. The RIAA (which is starting to develop its own agenda ahead of the labels themselves) and its sister organization, the MPAA, all have the kind of political access they need to make a business model succeed or fail, by hook or by crook. The labels have all of the political power, and the musicians none — they don’t have an organization which has the ear (and pocketbooks) of Congresscritters.

While ultimately this might go to a Bad Place (consider unions), workers never go after collective bargaining power without being completely exploited first. Only after political equilibrium is established will the power of a given business model become self-evident AND successful.

Back in NYC says:

I am only a novice in IP Law, but to the extent that an opposition lobby group to the RIAA/BPI has power, it is the power to lobby politicians and influence legislation/public policy. As it currently stands, and suggested by earlier posts, IP law does not pit labels against creators as much as it pits “owners” against “users” and “follow-on creators.”

In that sense, I’m not sure what laws the musicians’ lobby might push for–that it should be illegal for a label to own a copyright? That artists should get a statutorily determined percent of revenues? This would be strange since these are business issues, not legislative issues. Granted, musicians usually have little leverage in business negotiations and therefore get screwed, but this seems to be outside the purview of Congress/Parliament. Of course, there are many artists who are dying to sell their copyrights to labels in exchange for the possibility of promotion/exposure. Should they be legally barred from doing so?

If it’s true that sale of copyright and similar issues are outside the realm of legislation, then the extent that a musicians’ group might have power would only be as a union of sorts. If so, their major recourse option would be that of all unions: going on strike. This is an absurd consequence for any creative person and only conjures images of a certain South Park episode.

In what positive ways do people see this situation developing?

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