Madrid, 11th June 2014
In Madrid last night, at the UFi awards ceremony for independent music, the Mario Pacheco Award for outstanding contribution to independent music in Spain went for the first time to two international organisations.
European independents association IMPALA, and the worldwide network WIN were awarded at the ceremony, with the prize collected by Helen Smith of IMPALA, who also read out a message from the President of WIN, Alison Wenham.
Ubane Uzin of Basque label Gaztelupeko Hotsak and President of UFi addressed the audience with a rousing speech about what independent labels can achieve by uniting and the issues they face such as YouTube, before concluding: "Independent labels are investors who gives the vast majority of all new music a chance to be heard. Our rights as workers, as well as the rights of musicians whose works we put at the disposal of music lovers, also include the right to say no, without just compensation. And both IMPALA and WIN are here to help us to defend these basic human rights. And this is why, this year, we are awarding the Prize named after our founder, Mario Pacheco, to these two organisations."
(Please see the full speech below)
Helen Smith, Executive Chair, IMPALA said: "On behalf of the board of IMPALA and all of our members, thank you. It is a privilege to receive this award, not least because it is in honour of the late Mario Pacheco who was the very first recipient of IMPALA's own first outstanding contribution award. The legacy of individuals like Mario is more important today than ever before and UFi's role in the collective effort at a European and international level is crucial, so thank you UFi. We only need to look at the events of the past two weeks to see that the independent sector is dealing with concerns which are bigger and bigger, and at the same time more and more local. We will seek to harness the power of other disruptive players and work together so that music fans can access all the great music our artists create. That is the ultimate goal we all work towards and this UFi award is dedicated to all independent artists - our raison d'être."
Alison Wenham, President of WIN added this message: "On behalf of WIN and the global independent music industry we thank you very much for this very unexpected and special award. Working together we can all make a real difference, and we thank our Spanish colleagues for their tireless work to ensure the Spanish independent industry continues to flourish. Long live UFi!!"
Full speech by Ubane Uzin:
“Good evening, and welcome to this NEW edition of the Independent Music Awards, organized once again by UFi, in the year of its tenth anniversary.
It is no coincidence that in the last 10 or 15 years; associations such as UFi have emerged in almost all countries that produce, have produced or aspire to produce recordings of local music. The majors have neglected the work of discovery and development of local and niche recording artists almost entirely, replacing the traditional music industry with a fight for market share and control – of media, channels of distribution and even collective management organisations – through the tactic of eating everything in their way; first old independent catalogs, then current, then smaller majors... A game of Pacman, which currently has three winners. And careful; not one of them being at heart, in its soul, in its DNA, or simply, or even primarily, a record label.
As a result, creators, composers, musicians, singers, small businesses and music lovers, the fans, all find themselves in a different mindset. Our concerns are simply different. In Madrid, Oviedo, Lleida, Las Palmas, Lima, London, Los Angeles or Ludwigsberg, we are the same, but it is a distinct activity compared to that of the market leaders.
The logical, and challenging, thing to do is to unite. We do it – all different, all equal; we are suddenly more than an alternative, we are, already, all the diversity. And already we all work in a market that can potentially be worldwide, and in theory we have the opportunity to convey our ideas on a global scale, as the means to do so are also global.
But let us ponder the moment. The dream of internet seen as a field without doors where imagination, ideas and the music flow freely, has faded. There are two, three companies at most, who keep the doors of internet. The Holy Trinity: welcome to the new paradigm. And these corporations, which have almost completely eliminated the stores that sold music only, operate with the protection of laws that had been designed to protect small start-ups fifteen years ago, in addition to having opaque accounting systems that confer impunity before national financial authorities, are likewise, companies which do not have as their principal objective, the distribution of great music to music lovers.
After fifteen years of digital revolution, we find that the new status quo has turned out to be the law of the strongest. And the only way to protect the music and the musicians is to unite. But even a consolidated association such as UFi cannot defend itself alone against these giants; neither UFi, nor the American association nor the French association. We depend on IMPALA’s coordination with the European Union and the global brotherhood of local associations that is WIN.
Our arguments are strong. Thanks to them, we have had vital successes while fighting concentration in the music sector, such as the case of the purchase of EMI by Universal by the European Union or in negotiations for a fair recognition and compensation of our rights by Apple or MTV. Together we are kept informed of what is happening in the rest of the world, we can organise joint actions, and ultimately we can fight to defend the rights of small labels against market dominance or intimidation.
And now, the independent labels and artists of this world are facing yet another challenge. The all-too-common story of a powerhouse trying to force workers to deliver the fruits of their labor as cheaply as possible.
Today, it is difficult to imagine a stronger or a more impressive company than Google, the by-default leader in the field of information. Google is an economic power and a political influence, it is everywhere and its very business is us; our concerns, our interests, our dreams and our passions.
In 2006, while Ufi was still in its infancy, Google acquired YouTube. Since then, this platform has become the largest service in the world of music - an assertion it would be difficult to contradict. But, unlike services such as Deezer, Spotify or iTunes, YouTube has reached this size it has today without conducting negotiations with the creators of music, acting under a law designed at the start of the new millennium with the intent to protect small businesses from the demands of large free storage providers over the creations and intellectual property; turning the Act into a “de facto” license contract.
YouTube is not a music company, nor does it pretend to be one. Unlike those named above, it is not a service dedicated solely to disseminating and promoting music.
But it does want to offer a streaming music service. What it doesn’t want, perhaps because it is unused to the process, to negotiate conditions with the creators of the music. Yet, the YouTube strategy is always quite simple: accept their conditions without negotiations or be locked out of the game altogether.
YouTube does not produce anything: it is the agglomerator “par excellence”, of content created by others, often initially intended for sale or licence to other services. From this privileged position, its only intention is to put an end to the competing services.
Independent labels are investors who give the vast majority of all new music a chance to be heard. Our rights as workers, as well as the rights of musicians whose works we put at the disposal of music lovers, also include the right to say no, without just compensation. And both IMPALA and WIN are here to help us to defend these basic human rights.
And this is why, this year, we are awarding the Prize named after our founder, Mario Pacheco, to these two organizations represented in this ceremony by Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA.”