Earlier this week, a contract between Sony and Spotify leaked, revealing new details about the secret, multi-million dollar agreements between labels and streaming services. In response to this, the International Music Managers Forum sent an open letter addressed to “Policy Makers” yesterday. The document calls for increased transparency in licensing agreements to prevent the exploitation of artists, changing the royalty system to reflect labels’ newly-diminished role in marketing music, and giving musicians a greater voice in the ongoing process of modernizing the structures for distributing and selling music. Read a few excerpts from the document below, and see the two-page letter here.
On transparency: "We don’t just want artists to be paid fairly, we also want them to get the relevant usage data. It is impossible to prove fair remuneration is occurring without transparency… Music is at present often exploited under clouded terms in hidden deals, with complex forumalae used to calculate royalty rates, and with little transparency regarding source values. Artists should have access to all relevant information concerning all exploitations of rights; any contract where a label or publisher waves the artist’s right to receive such information should be considered void."
On changing the royalty system: "One of the fundamental ways labels support artists is through marketing the recordings. Labels take on marketing obligations, and in return labels earn a large share of the royalties. If a label is trading music rights for any income that is not royalties, for example a label is receiving advances, or a label is receiving free advertising (lowering the labels marketing costs) should this alter the basis upon which royalties are shared between labels and artists?"
On giving artists more say: "Significant problems in music arise from a number of 'standard practices' clung to by record labels… These practices developed incrementally over a long period of time as a series of responses to a series of changes in how music was sold before the digital market arrived… Consumers and innovative services have been change agents in terms of how music in consumed. Creators could also drive progress."