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Jon Webster confirms he will stand down as MMF CEO as PPL elections announced

By | Published on Tuesday 10 November 2015


Music Managers Forum boss Jon Webster has confirmed he will step down as CEO of the management trade group at the end of this year, though he will continue to work for the organisation two days per week.

Webster has confirmed this plan after standing for one of the elected Performer Director posts on the board of collecting society PPL. The record industry rights body also administrates the performers’ share of performing rights income in the UK (so called ‘equitable remuneration’) and so has representatives from the performer community as well as record labels on its board. There are currently five such performer directors (it will increase to six next year) of which three are elected, with two posts up for election this time. Webster will compete with incumbents Crispin Hunt and Mark Kelly, both active members of the Featured Artists Coalition, in the election.

Noting that the reduction of his commitment to MMF will “allow me to devote the considerable time needed to be an effective Performer Director on the PPL board”, Webster says: “The increasing complexity of rights flow in the world of recorded music led me to commission the recently released ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ report. The report was born out of frustration of the lack of clarity of worldwide rights flow and it has shone light where it was needed”.

He goes on: “The arrival of the internet and the easy transmission and access of digital music has led to a reduction of performer rights as initially analogue laws were used to govern digital music. Secondly new rights such as the making available right have been implemented in such a way as to disadvantage performers and I will work to change this. Progress is being made, both through legal channels and through adoption of new policies such as the payment of digital ‘breakage’ by record companies. Unfortunately these steps are often slow but 2015 is, I believe, a tipping point and the performer voice is having more of an effect and I would like to help drive that process in 2016”.

Hunt and Kelly similarly discuss the evolution of music rights in the digital age, and the position of performer rights in that evolution, in their statements for re-election.

Kelly writes: “Until recently the labels have been treating all streaming income as if it’s on-demand and therefore not covered by equitable remuneration, but with the launch of Apple’s Beats 1 radio they can no longer ignore the fact that many streaming services contain an equitable remuneration component and performers need to be paid accordingly. I believe PPL are best placed to distribute that money accurately but there is a worrying trend for labels to license directly, making it harder for performers to know if they are being accounted to properly”.

And Hunt says: “Fair payment from digital consumption of our work is critical to our future, as is accurate and transparent remuneration from both the music industry and the digital world. I hope to bring my experience as a player, writer and producer of current chart music to music’s negotiation table. I feel it’s vital that emerging artists, whose livelihood depends on the digital medium, have representation within PPL that is commensurate to the income that their work generates”.

PPL elections take place on 25 Nov. The three candidate statements are here.