Songwriters and composers, whose living for 60 years has derived from record/CD sales, is now under dire threat.
These formats have plummeted by over 50% in a decade as we have all moved online. However this brave new digital universe has forgotten the creators at the roots of it all. The economic model now supporting the digital music industry does not pay enough for music writers to earn anywhere near a living wage. The vast majority of artists in the top 40 do not write their own material, they perform the songs professional writers write. The ability to write as a full-time career is now in danger of becoming a thing of the past. The greatness of British songwriting is in peril.
To have more transparency around digital deals, to achieve a fairer share of digital royalty income and advertising revenues linked to our members’ works and to have better protection online both through search engines and the easier removal of infringing websites and apps.
How do we propose achieving it?
Having a 3 pronged approach to influence:
The music industry – better deals
Government – changing legislation
General public – changing attitudes and behaviours towards filesharing
What Are We Asking For
1. 50/50 split of gross royalty income for writers from digital services (labels-artists / publishers-writers) as with broadcasting synchronisation splits. In the UK publishing-writer splits were set by the Copyright Tribunal in 2007 at 8.5% (to mirror the CD sale format and totally inappropriate in the digital age) though currently deals tend to be around 10% to 12%.
2. Advertising income paid to creators for all usage, particularly with YouTube but with all streaming services. Income to creators from this licensing is currently unacceptably small and must be increased to reflect the substantial advertising revenues achieved. This will also require more accurate metadata and transparent reporting to Collective Management Organisations from the streaming companies.
3. Removal of auto predictive fill in of illegal content with all internet search engines, but particularly Google searches and Google alerts search service highlighting illegal downloading sites.
4. Removal of safe harbour for content platforms such as YouTube; these intermediaries benefit from others creativity and knowingly hold infringing copyright works. There has been scope-creep for such platforms which exist to provide content to consumers, therefore we need clarification over what safe harbour should cover and what it should not. We also need a quick and cost effective process to help permanently remove infringing content from these websites that does not penalise the rightsholders.
5. Loosening up the terms of NDAs to allow for comprehensive Collective Management Organisations audit rights for writers from all income streams including digital. We need more clarification from PRS what is absolutely essential about the commercial aspects of their negotiations that requires NDAs and where there is room for giving more information to writers.
Write To Your MP
We are also encouraging our members to write to your MP in order to highlight this crisis directly with them. Consumer groups are very good at this and creators need to get better at this too. All MPs are contactable via the internet. Here is the government link where you can find out who your MP is and their email or postage address:
Our political representatives need to know exactly what our issues and concerns are. When writing a letter it may help to follow this format:
– Introduction, who you are and how you make your living
– Keep it brief but explain the difficulties you have experienced with your music being illegally file-shared online
– Let them know what they can do, such as supporting the move to remove safe harbour provisions for content platforms
– Ask to meet them if at all possible
Do let us know if you would like additional support with this process. If so please email firstname.lastname@example.org