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Independents launch Fair Digital Deals Declaration

By | Published on Wednesday 16 July 2014


The Worldwide Independent Network – which brings together indie label trade bodies worldwide – this morning launched a new Fair Digital Deals Declaration, which hundreds of indie labels around the world have already signed up to.

The initiative is partly about addressing some of the issues raised by a CMU artist panel survey for The Great Escape back in May, led by Dan Le Sac, in which it became clear that there was a lot of confusion in the artist community as to how deals between labels and digital services are structured, and what is being paid by which services for what usage. Most of the commitments labels signing the Declaration are making are about better communicating how digital deals and royalties are working.

Though the high profile launch of the Declaration is also likely about promoting that the indies are more artist-friendly in the digital domain than the majors, who have been accused by an increasing number of artists and managers of hiding behind NDAs, and profiting from advances and equity arrangements while their acts’ only receive their cut of low per-play royalty payments.

Key points in the Fair Digital Deals Declaration include:

1. We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.

2. We will account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetisation of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.

3. We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.

4. We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorised uses of their music.

Announcing the initiative, Alison Wenham, boss of the UK’s indie label group AIM, and Chairman of WIN, told CMU: “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”.

She went on: “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”.

Meanwhile the boss of pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA, Helen Smith, added: “This initiative reflects the close relationship between artists and their labels in the independent sector and it’s great to have such a high take up from Europe already. Nearly two thirds of the signatories so far are European labels”.