RIAA Launches Brand New Front Group Pretending To Represent Independent Artists

from the oh-come-on dept

A few days ago, a friend asked if I’d ever heard of the “Digital Creators Coalition,” an apparently new group that claimed to be representing independent artists. I was unfamiliar with it, and its website provided basically no information about who was actually behind it, beyond this vague statement on its “who we are” page:

The Digital Creators Coalition (DCC) is a group of associations, companies and organizations that represent individual creators, independent producers, small-and-medium-size enterprises (SMEs), large businesses, and labor organizations from the American creative communities. We contribute significantly to U.S. GDP, exports and employment ? collectively employing or representing millions of American creators, and contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

Right… but… uh… who? There’s no named staff. There’s nothing that shows who these associations, companies, and organizations actually are. Though, if you click through on the website to their “comments” page, it takes you to two separate letters that were sent nearly a year ago to negotiators trying to sort out a US-UK trade agreement, asking for the most extreme versions of copyright possible, including copyright term extension, secondary liability on websites that host content, no language on “balance” or “fair use” (yes, they explicitly say neither term should be mentioned). It’s insanity.

Of course, that letter also reveals who they are, and it’s a who’s who of industry associations that lobby for the interests of the largest gatekeepers, and not, as the organization’s website suggests, small and independent creators:

I mean, you’ve got basically all the copyright maximalist extremist groups there: the RIAA, the MPA, the Author’s Guild, Creative Future, the Recording Academy, ASCAP, SoundExchange, NMPA, the IIPA. Not surprisingly, but incredibly disappointing is that the News Media Alliance is there. The News Media Alliance used to be the Newspaper Association of America, and, as such, you’d think would be supportive of free speech and the 1st Amendment. Considering how much newspapers rely on fair use, you’d think it would be odd that they’re now against fair use. But, over the past few years, the leaders of the News Media Alliance have become so obsessed and infatuated with “GOOGLE BAD!” that apparently they have no problem throwing their lot in with copyright maximalists against their own members’ interests. The organization literally came out against fair use a few years ago, and has since become just as bad (in some ways worse!) than some of the other organizations here.

But, just as if to prove that this group has nothing to do with small and independent creators, and is just a front for the big gatekeepers who screw over small and independent creators, the RIAA itself put out a press release announcing this group’s official launch. Oh, and in case there was any doubt who is really behind this group, a simple whois lookup on who registered the website reveals all:

Yup. This organization set up to supposedly support small and independent artists… was literally set up by the RIAA itself.

This would be the same RIAA whose chairman and CEO’s key claim to fame is that while he was a Congressional staffer, he snuck four words into an unrelated bill that literally would take the copyrights from artists and give them to record labels. No one realized he had done this until after it was passed and became law, at which point, the RIAA immediately hired him, and where he’s moved up the ranks until he was in charge. This move set off a huge fight with tons of artists screaming about how the RIAA had actually “stolen” their copyrights out from under them, and Congress had to go in and fix this.

That’s who’s protecting the interests of small and independent creators? Don’t make me laugh.

This is also the same RIAA made up of the major labels who have a long and detailed history of screwing over some of its biggest artists through creative accounting (the only thing the RIAA really does that is creative) to make sure it never needs to pay artists and to keep them tied to the system. These are not the friends of independent artists.

Notice who is not a part of this coalition? Any of the companies who have made it possible for actual small and independent artists to make, distribute, promote, build an audience, and make a living these days. No Apple. No YouTube. No TikTok. No Kickstarter. No Patreon. No Spotify. No Bandcamp. No Substack. Odd, isn’t it? Then again, maybe not.

But seeing as this group is now officially “launched” you can expect to see a bunch of bullshit quotes from them that gullible reporters will repeat without question, saying that it’s a group to support artists. Don’t believe them. This is an organization to support the copyright maximalism of groups that have spent decades screwing over independent artists.

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Companies: dcc, digital creators coalition, mpa, riaa

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Comments on “RIAA Launches Brand New Front Group Pretending To Represent Independent Artists”

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Bloof (profile) says:

Hello fellow ki... Independant musicians.

It’s about time small time artists and minor labels had a voice willing to speak up against their interests, to cry out ‘We agree!’ whenever the RIAA trots out some new twist on copyright to make it easier to strip away the creator’s rights, or cut off all the paths they’ve been using to promote their work and build fanbases without major label backing. Now the little guy will finally get a chance to have someone write an op ed in the New York Times in their name without their consent, which sounds exactly like an RIAA press release, railing about piracy killing music and making artists starve, even though said artists get a tiny cut of the profits from recordings of their work.

Thank god someone’s there to think of the little guy and making their lives just so much worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Obviously oxymoron

A group of representing independent artists on their behalf? How stupid do they think we are – by definition independent artists aren’t affiliated with any groups! They don’t even have their own tee shirt and merch factories and they expect us to believe they have a lobbying group? When Covid-19 has devastated live peformances no less.

I would love to see a news show at this point which called out bald faced lies like this.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Obviously oxymoron

"by definition independent artists aren’t affiliated with any groups!"

Not quite true. Here’s the cycle;

1) A lot of independent artists get sick of the exploitative nature of the gatekeeper coalition they’re in and break away.

2) The breakaways found a group of their own with much more casual rules and a base just common enough for them to present a united front in resisting blacklisting and other shady tactics by the major gatekeepers.

3) Being successful, the breakaway group rapidly attracts more independents and new breakaways.

4) The group, having become large enough, ends up employing "professional" CEO’s rather than invested artists and rapidly turns into a carbon copy of the gatekeepers the members broke away from. Or merges with that gatekeeper.

Rinse and repeat.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Who are we? None of your damn business that's who!'

Given who’s actually running the group it’s hardly surprising that they’d do everything they could to hide it, I guess even they realized that the facade wouldn’t hold up very well if the ‘pro-independent creator’ group was honest enough to admit that it was headed by an organization and backed by companies who are anything but.

The only thing more pathetic than the dishonesty is that I’ve no doubt it will still work, whether because of gullible suckers ‘reporting’ on what the group says without doing any investigation into who and what, or by other organizations/companies/individuals who don’t care so long as parroting what’s said serves their interests as well.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I imagine he’s plenty tired of talking about both and would be happy to never need to write another article like this again, but so long as the dishonest, greedy and/or stupid keep trying to screw the public over via those two methods there will be a need for articles like this one so the liars and those they’ve duped aren’t the only ones involved in the conversation.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Cool deliberate misspelling bro

So you’re threatening to turn me into the FBI for what again? Pointing out that it’s possible to defame ANYONE with the method I outlined? Which law does that break again?

I’m thinking you don’t find this entertainment anymore given the seriousness of your threat.

Thing is I’m already reporting to law enforcement almost on a daily basis.

Given that MANICK is already aware his friends are about to be sued that puts a whole new light on this threat.

By all means, please call the FBI.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ah yes, the "law enforcement laughs at you" internet trope.

They called to tell you that, Mik-er, "Steve?"

It’s kind of defamatory against civil servants to accuse them of conduct which could get them fired.

Last time I checked people threatening to kill me was enough to trigger a report, and when they have ties to Anonymous and make implied threats, the feds just laugh at that too right?

Witness intimidation isn’t a joke either.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Last time you said Judge Otis Wright was wrong and Prenda would win, how’d that turn out? When your legal threats aren’t worth the toilet paper you wrote it on, you’ll forgive me for not shaking in my shoes. As it turns out, your penis is not a pencil and sperm isn’t a good ink substitute.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


We’ll stop talking about the RIAA when it becomes politically impotent and socially irrelevant. Until then, it remains a potent force for copyright maximalism and discussion of it isn’t going to stop. Don’t like it? Ignore it or stop reading this blog. Door’s to your left.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, I believe they are.

Now, if people would stop trying to destroy section 230 under false pretences, and the RIAA would stop doing terrible things for their industry, I’m sure Techdirt would be happy to stop reporting on those. Until then, they’ll have to keep writing about them.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Umm, I’m an independent musician and I use Creative Commons licenses on my own work. Just look and see. Also, while there are definitely honest independent labels out there, the major corporate ones are anything but honest as they’re the ones cheating artists, not spotify.

Besides, people listen to Streaming services such as Spotify more now and illegally download less often, so railing against download piracy is as relevant as railing against the line-item veto.

Sorry, you lose.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Piracy harms indies horribly. Many get 100 percent of their sales and rely on that to eke out a living.

The latter statement is true, but you need to assume that almost no pirates ever go through the legal route, which is demonstrably false.

Stealing is never right.

True, but piracy isn’t stealing, so that’s irrelevant.

Don’t like it? Don’t read it don’t buy it.

How will I know whether or not I will like it if I can’t try it? There are lots of stuff I bought and love that I would not have purchased if I had not gotten a free trial, demo, or excerpt to see if I’d like it. And not all products offer such things.

Profiting from crime is wrong as those who do are taking risks law-abiding people refuse to.

  1. Taking risks that law-abiding people normally wouldn’t isn’t necessarily wrong.
  2. Morality is not equal to lawfulness.
  3. Not all pirates profit from piracy.
  4. Piracy is not always a crime, even if it is unlawful.
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Peter says:

As supportive as money to the bank.

"The News Media Alliance used to be the Newspaper Association of America, and, as such, you’d think would be supportive of free speech and the 1st Amendment".

Well of course they are fully supportive of free speech and 1stA….just as long as they are the ones making off the back of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a problem that happens every few years,
old legacy companys lobby for changes in the law, re copyright and online
ip rights, laws that will reduce the publics rights to use ip in fair use .
these new laws always favour the gate keepers ,record and tv,movie companys
versus the indie artists and creators who create the content.
Part of the new laws passed about a month ago ago now make it a felony to stream content ,eg if you stream music or video owned by a big company like sony or disney you could could face paying a large fine
similar to the one you might get for uploading music to a torrent website.
And of course with laws like article 17 in the eu, they say this law is designed to help creators and artists protect their content from piracy .

ECA (profile) says:

When a Agency

Has enough money to wonder the World and create Copies of itself in other countries(that didnt know they NEEDED THIS)
That can solicit Multiple governments and politicians(give money to).
Create alt type Agencies, in The USA and other countries.(can you look up if there are other agencies created by RIAA, at least in the USA)
Then at some points Many Artists take then to court to Prove they have PAID all the royalties, as the artists aint seen a check in years, and still hears Their music on the air, and see’s the Purchases on Amazon, Itunes, and other sites.

And considering 90% of their business has gone DIGITAL, and the profits Should have Quadrupled over the last 20 years.
I think they have to much time and Money. As they spread around the world, and make things COMPLICATED for no reason.
Should we check Purchases in the USA of international music, and send the info tot he artists?? ANd include the Amounts paid to OUR artists? Or do you think the RIAA is being Fair to those other countries?

Anonymous Coward says:

when will artists, both recording and movie, realise that they are being screwed royally by the entertainment industries, taking millions from the artists and giving virtually nothing back, nothing to protect anyone except themselves and the top dogs? these organisations are not needed now, in any way, shape or form as all artists can promote themselves and their respective industries perfectly well just by using the internet. trouble is, this is the greatest fear of these industry bodies, the fear of what is actually happening, the fear of becomming obsolete!

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