London, 6th March 2018
WIN RE-AFFIRMS FAIR DIGITAL DEALS DECLARATION
AS SPOTIFY LISTING APPROACHES THE INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY COMMITS TO TRANSPARENCY AND FAIR DEALING
The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organisation that represents the interests of the global independent music community, has announced a new initiative to add to the signatories of the 2014 Fair Digital Deals Declaration.
As Spotify prepares to list directly on the New York Stock Exchange in the near future, a number of music companies - including those independent labels who negotiated equity stakes via trade body Merlin - stand to benefit from the sale of shares.
The large music rights owners have created new contractual relationships with DSPs, and in addition to equity, may also receive lump sum payments, typically for access, administration, ‘breakage’ and other ‘non-attributable’ charges.
In July 2014 WIN launched The Fair Digital Deals Declaration (below), a voluntary commitment made by independent record label signatories around the world to treat their artists fairly in agreements relating to digital exploitation of artists’ work in recorded music agreements with third parties. This was subsequently used in France to create the Code of Conduct, and in March 2017 was cited in the House of Lords as an example of best practice.
Around the world, over the next few weeks, the independent trade bodies will be encouraging new member label signatories and a re-commitment from current signatories to the Declaration.
As a voluntary initiative it is up to individual member labels to sign The Fair Digital Deals Declaration in their territories.
All three major labels have committed to sharing revenues from the sales of Spotify shares with the artists directly signed to their companies but WIN has further called on Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music and Universal Music Group to give the independent labels distributed by them, and therefore those artists they represent, their corresponding share of any payout received.
The independent artist community has expressed growing concern about their share of these revenues following the forthcoming listing and in response WIN has re-affirmed the commitments made under The Fair Digital Deals Declaration and has adopted a clear stance that amplifies its continuing adherence to fairness and transparency.
When the declaration was adopted, IMPALA, the independents' association in Europe noted that two thirds of the labels signing up were European. The question of remuneration and fairness is currently being discussed in the context of a revision of the European copyright directive, including the value gap between certain platforms and rightsholders.
Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN said, “The Fair Digital Deals Declaration is a voluntary initiative launched in 2014 and is a clear statement of those labels’ commitment to their artists. With the forthcoming Spotify listing, which will value the company at an estimated $19bn, they have the perfect opportunity to reiterate their position and more labels are expected to sign up over the coming weeks. We are fully focused on ensuring a sustainable economic relationship between the independent recorded music industry and the artists it represents.”
Martin Mills, Beggars Group Founder and Chair of WIN said: “It is entirely appropriate that independents, who have given birth to every significant new musical movement over the last 70 years, should take the lead in committing to fair and reasonable treatment of all artists and application of contract terms as the digital era continues to move into uncharted waters.”
Helen Smith, IMPALA's Executive Chair said: "When the declaration was launched nearly four years ago, this was the first commitment of its kind made to the artist community. It was done on a voluntary basis by independent labels and two thirds of the signatories were European. With the Spotify listing, we will now see it really bear fruit. In the current debate in Europe about copyright and artist remuneration, this is a fantastic example of the independent sector’s ability to take the lead and organise itself in the digital age."
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Notes for editors
LABELS’ FAIR DIGITAL DEALS DECLARATION
We make the following declaration in connection with the distribution of recordings in digital services.
1) Ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
2) Account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetization of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.
3) Encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.
4) Support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
5) Support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Standard – see www.winformusic.org
We wholly disapprove of certain practices, which leave artists under-recompensed and under-informed in the digital marketplace and will work together with the artist community to counter these practices.
The Worldwide Independent Music Industry Network (WIN) is a global forum for the professional independent music industry. It was launched in 2006 in response to business, creative and market access issues faced by the independent sector everywhere. For independent music companies and their national trade associations worldwide, WIN is a collective voice. It also acts as an advocate, instigator and facilitator for its membership.
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies in Europe. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector's jobs (for more information, see the features of independents). IMPALA's mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector. See the organisation's key achievements in IMPALA's first 15 years in milestones.