IAO President Paul Pacifico addressed parliamentarians in Brussels today as part of the IAO’s ‘Artists In Europe’ event, highlighting the position of Artists in the current music industry ecosystem:
"My name is Paul Pacifico I am a Harmonica player from London and I am CEO of the UK’s Featured Artists Coalition as well as president of the ‘International Artist Organisation’; a new organisation that represents the various national movements across Europe which represent artists in music.
We have started with 6 members including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Norway. Our seventh member’s application is underway and we look forward to welcoming Croatia on board by the Summer with more to follow.
I would like to start by thanking not just the MEPs that have come to listen and support us today, but also the artists who are here and who represent our various member states. Artists face the fact that if they stand up for themselves, they risk damage to their careers from large companies with strong vested interests in the status quo. The artists here today are brave and should be congratulated.
As the digital market becomes mainstream and streaming in particular becomes the primary mechanism for consumers to access music, it is clear that the internal music industry market has not been able to keep pace with the changes.
Consumers use streaming more and more as we all once used radio and the lines between broadcast and interactive services become increasingly blurred. But current legislation means that the revenue an Artist receives when someone enjoys they music online changes dramatically with just one click of the mouse. It is not reflective of consumer behaviour and it is not fair to artists.
It is unequivocal that the system is broken – the economic food chain simply does not work.
It is easy for everyone to agree with the general statement that there should be a fair internet for performers and that there is a requirement to pay performers.
But first I would like to make something clear. We are not asking for money that isn’t there. We are not asking for a tax on consumers or for change that looks backwards into the past.
A distorted picture often emerges of artists as resistant to change and somehow against the march of new technologies. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Artists continue to be and have always been at the cutting edge, pushing the envelope and using every tool at their disposal. The immediacy of streaming and social media have allowed the artist-fan relationship to flower in ways that were simply unimaginable in the 20th Century – we have come a long way from the ‘Fan Clubs’ of old!
That artist-fan relationship is the key relationship in our industry. Without it, there is nothing. Artists do not want to alienate their fans – artists and consumers do indeed exist in symbiosis and the digital platforms nourish that relationship.
Enlightened approaches from record labels or producers as they are called here, can be witnessed from the Indie label community and the FAC in the UK works closely with the Association of Independent Music, supporting the World Independent Network’s charter last year which commits to accounting in good faith and sharing non-attributable revenue with artists.
So in fact we artists stand together with consumers, platforms and independent producers and agree that performers should get a fair share.
We would welcome engagement by the Producers in the evolution of our market, but they are often absent from constructive discussions that get away from leveraging the power of legacy catalogue and talk about a fair and sustainable future rather than quick wins and short-term gains.
We want the leaders in the recorded music market like Universal and their shareholders, Vivendi, to take responsibility and step up to the plate.
Universal needs to show leadership along with artist representative organisations such as the IAO / FAC, Managers, Lawyers… and help map out a sustainable and balanced industry for the digital age.
But the problem remains that artists’ bargaining power in negotiations is often weak and we cannot rely on contracts alone to balance the power in the market of some of the major players.
A simple and elegant change to the Making Available Right would go a long way to achieving this.
The IAO as part of the Fair Internet Coalition which represents over 500,000 performers in Europe from both the audio and audio visual industries calls on the members of the European Parliament, Commission and Council to give performers a new provision in EU law, complementary to the existing relevant provisions of the Information Society Directive.
We need an unwaivable right to receive equitable remuneration for the making available of our performances on demand.
Such equitable remuneration should be collected from the users and managed by Performers’ collective management organisations.
This would ensure some payment and transparency is available to performers whose works are being enjoyed.