London, July 14th 2014 – The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organisation that represents the interests of the global independent music community, has announced a major new initiative, ‘The Fair Digital Deals Declaration,’ which will be launched with a Worldwide Declaration Signing Day on July 16th. @winformusic
The Fair Digital Deals Declaration is a statement of commitment made by independent record labels to treat their artists fairly in agreements relating to digital exploitation of artists’ work in recorded music agreements with third parties.
The big print giveth and the small print taketh away. – Tom Waits
The campaign can be followed on Twitter from the @winformusic account throughout the day where updates from trade associations and labels across the world, including photos and Declaration signing news, will be added using the hashtag #fairdigitaldeal4artists.
In today’s music industry, new digital services launch regularly, and existing services continue to launch new features. In recent years a pattern has emerged whereby large rights owners can secure huge lump sum payments, typically for equity, access, administration, ‘breakage’ and other non-attributable charges. The artist community has understandably expressed growing concern about the apparent disparity between the value of the overall deal to the rights holder versus the per-stream rate which is often the only revenue shared with the artist. As it is the artist whose work creates all such revenues, the WIN community has determined to adopt a clear stance for the artist community.
The WIN Declaration makes it clear that signatory companies will share the benefits of dealing with digital services fairly and clearly with artists. This is to amplify our commitment to fairness and transparency, and to ensuring a sustainable economic relationship between the independent recorded music industry and the artists it partners with to bring their music to market.
There are 5 key points to the declaration as follows:
- We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
- We will 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.
- We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.
- We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
- We will support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Manifesto.
Any label signing up to this declaration will also commit to communicating to their artists that they have signed the Declaration. They will agree to attach a signed copy of the Declaration to their artists’ royalty statements at the next royalty payment run to demonstrate their support for the initiative.
In addition WIN will coordinate a Worldwide Declaration Signing Day on July 16th with independent music trade associations around the world announcing their individual member labels’ support through local and international media channels.
A healthy commercial relationship based on mutual trust and partnership between artists and labels is critical to the long term financial health of our industry. We believe that this new initiative, which seeks to put in place simple, fair and transparent guidelines for labels dealing with third party digital partners is a template for best practice. We invite companies – majors and indies – to join the hundreds of companies who have already signed and put a stop to the practise of diverting revenues from the artists without whom we would not have a business. – Alison Wenham, Chairman of WIN
The group who developed the Declaration consisted of Emmanuel de Buretel/Because, Martin Mills/Beggars, Alison Wenham/WIN, Justin West/Secret City, Darius Van Arman/Secretly Group, Florian Von Hoyer/Altofonte, Doug D’Arcy/Faith and Hope, all members of the WIN Council.
Martin Mills, Group Chairman of the Beggars Group said: “ Why wouldn’t we treat artists fairly? It seems so obvious that we shouldn’t have to say it, but let’s say it, loud and proud”.
Darius Van Arman, co-founder of the Secretly Group said: Dead Oceans / Jagjaguwar / Numero Group / Secretly Canadian, added: “The bedrock of trust between artists and labels is artists receiving a fair share of the revenue that is earned from their work, where labels convey financial terms transparently and comprehensibly to artists. This is how the independents prefer to do business. Our signing of the Labels’ Fair Digital Deals Declaration demonstrates our commitment to this ideal and is an invitation to all industry participants to make the same commitment.”
Justin West, President of Secret City Records commented: “No constructive business relationship is sustainable without fairness and transparency. The more that we all reinforce those principles, the stronger an industry we will be.”
Emmanuel de Buretel, Founder of Because Group said: “The dematerialization of music distribution has opened and simplified the access of music to consumers, but deals with digital platforms have seriously complicated reporting between the artists and the labels. The only way to create a long lasting relationship between artists and labels is to apply total transparency with regards to our deals with the distribution platforms and that is what this Declaration promises from us.”
Our special thanks to Tom Waits for permission to use his quote.