In July 2014 WIN launched The Fair Digital Deals Declaration, a commitment made by independent record label signatories around the world to treat their artists fairly in agreements relating to digital exploitation of artists’ work in recorded music agreements with third parties.
This was subsequently used in France to create the Code of Conduct, and in March 2017 was cited in the House of Lords in the UK as an example of best practice.
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.
In the light of Spotify listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018, a number of music companies – including those independent labels who negotiated equity stakes via trade body Merlin – also stand to benefit from the sale of shares.
The artist community has expressed growing concern about their share of these revenues and in response WIN has recently re-affirmed the commitments made under The Fair Digital Deals Declaration and has adopted a clear stance that amplifies its continuing adherence to fairness and transparency.
In addition, all three major labels have committed to sharing revenues from the sales of Spotify shares with the artists directly signed to their companies but WIN has further called on Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music and Universal Music Group to give the independent labels distributed by them, and therefore those artists they represent, their corresponding share of any payout received. So far only Sony has confirmed it will pay its distributed independent companies a share of the equity.
Independent trade bodies around the world will continue to encourage new member label signatories and a re-commitment from current signatories to the Declaration.
As a voluntary initiative, it is up to individual member labels to sign The Fair Digital Deals Declaration in their territories.
Read the declaration and sign up HERE.
See the list of current signatories HERE.
Read the industry support of the declaration HERE.
SC Distribution’s Label Signing Event
Manu Sánchez, Los Punsetes
Pablo Diaz-Reixa, El Guincho
Simon Drake, Naim
Shirin Foroutan, Mute
“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.”
“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”.
Martin Mills Group Chairman, Beggars Group; 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL Recordings, Young Turks. UK
“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.”
Darius Van Arman
Co-founder, Secretly Group; Dead Oceans / Jagjaguwar / Numero Group / Secretly Canadian. USA
“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.”
President, Secret City Records Canada
“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.”
Emmanuel de Buretel
Founder, Because Group France
“Our artists are our strength and they have a right to be treated fairly and transparently for the payment of their talent. The Mushroom Group fully supports this declaration”
Chairman, The Mushroom Group Australia
“Justin Time Records is proud to be a signatory to the “Fair Digital Deals Pledge”, a move that signifies the essence of a true partnership with our artists.”
President, Justin Time Records Canada
“IDLA’s distributed labels have always been, and will continue to be accounted to transparently, which includes each label’s pro-rata share of breakage, and proceeds from infringement settlements that were negotiated by MERLIN. We believe the payout of these revenues sets us apart from major label owned distributors such as InGrooves and The Orchard, and a major reason for independent labels and artists to truly go 100 % independent for their music distribution.”
Executive Director, IDLA Associated Label Distribution Canada
“Cherry Red Records are delighted to support the Labels Fair Digital Deals Declaration. The digital world is still a new, and fast developing, area in many ways, and it is important that new services and models respect and value independent copyright as they move forward. It is also crucial to the long term health of the music chain that all parties are as transparent with each other as possible, so labels, publishers, artists, writers etc, are all able to gain the information they need to satisfy themselves as to how they will derive revenue from new services and models. We hope that this declaration will show the unity on these points amongst the independent label sector, and help us all to operate efficiently and successfully in the digital arena.”
Director, Cherry Red UK
“fabric Records and Houndstooth fully support the fair digital declaration, we pride ourselves on fair, transparent and honest accounting to all our artists”
Managing Director, Fabric Worldwide Ltd: fabric Records / Houndstooth UK
“Ninja Tune has always seen fair and transparent deals for its artists as a central part of what we do, the label was founded by artists who had suffered from the amoral behaviour of a big label, so we have always aimed to avoid that so the Fair Digital Deal Declaration is a good way to confirm and communicate that. We pay all our artists 50% of net profit from exploitation of their music which we see as the embodiment of a fair deal.”
Managing Director, Ninja Tune UK
“The issue at hand is that the music industry at large has been confronted with a high degree of disruption and the advent of new legitimate streaming services has brought with it much greater opportunities for transparency in reporting. As a result, there is greater scrutiny over that reporting and it opens up the dialogue directly with artists about what is ‘fair’. Increasingly, the majors seek to bury their obligations to repatriate funds to their artists, without whom they would have no business. This isn’t a path that the independents seek to endorse and in fact see it as a great opportunity in promoting this attitude as a key selling point to working with independent record labels”
David Vodicka Chairman of the Board of AIR
“Labels owe it to their artists to be transparent about royalties and digital income – this is something Future Classic is passionate about and as such we fully support the Declaration.”
Label Manager, Future Classic
“Unified, through its group of labels, helps build careers by working collaboratively with our artists. Transparency in accounting and operations is a cornerstone of this collaboration as it builds trust and respect. We support WIN and the Fair Digital Deals statement as it embodies our ongoing approach to music.”
General Manager, UNFD
“Since 1997, The Orchard has empowered the independent community by negotiating fair terms on behalf of our global client base, which represents almost 25% of the music that’s available on iTunes for digital distribution. Additionally, through direct client access to detailed royalty statements and daily sales activity, we provide ultimate transparency to our clients. The Orchard has always upheld the points in WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration; signing it publicly reinforces our commitment to the independent sector.”
Chief Executive Officer, The Orchard
“The industry has reached its tipping point. Music fans want complete access to stream whatever music they want, whenever they want. This is an amazing opportunity for everyone, however, if the artists, which is where it all begins, are not paid fairly for their art and are kept in the dark regarding the way the deals are made, then they will never embrace the technology and things won’t move forward. If the artists aren’t inspired by the medium, and at worst grow to resent it, there will be a hefty price to pay for the industry and the fans alike. The fair deals declaration seeks to create transparency between artists, their labels and the digital streaming service deals that are being struck with their music as the commodity. It seems only right. Fair trade music! Demand it.”
of “The Barr Brothers”
July 15, 2014 – Los Angeles Times “Indie Music Label Group Launching Campaign For Fair Digital Deals”
July 15, 2014 – BillboardBiz.com “Global Indie Sector Unites To Launch ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’”
July 16, 2014 – Rolling Stone “More Than 700 Indie Labels Unite in ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’”
July 16, 2014 – The Hollywood Reporter “More Than 750 Indie Labels Sign Fair Digital Deals Declaration”
July 20, 2014 – The Wall Street Journal.com “Artists Press For Their Share”
July 16, 2014 – The Tennessean “Nashville Labels Join Push For Fair Digital Music Deals”
July 16, 2014 – Spin “Indie Giants Unite For ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’”
July 16, 2014 – Music Week.com “Over 750 Indie Labels Sign Up To WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration”
July 16, 2014 – Stereogum.com “Hundreds Of Indie Labels Unite To Launch Fair Digital Deals Declaration”
July 16, 2014 – Resident Advisor.net “Independent Labels Band Together for Fair Digital Deals Declaration”
July 16, 2014 – Hype Track.com “Indie Labels Team Up “Fair Digital Deals Declaration” Initiative”
July 15, 2014 – Pitchfork “Indie Labels Unite to Launch ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’ Initiative”
July 15, 2014 – Digital Music News.com “Breaking: Over 600 Indie Labels Sign the Fair Digital Deals Declaration…”
July 15, 2014 – Consequence of sound.net “Over 700 Indie Labels Join Forces For ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’”
July 16, 2014 – JAYMAG.it “Win lancia la dichiarazione per l’equità degli accordi digitali per gli artisti”
July 16, 2014 – All Info.it ”Musica: Win Lancia La Dichiarazione Per L’equita’ Degli Accordi Digitali Per Gli Artisti (#fairdigitaldeal4artists)”
July 16, 2014 – Rockol.it ”Patto mondiale tra indie per la ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’”
July 16, 2014 – Popsoap.it “Win Lancia La Dichiarazione Per L’equità Degli Accordi Digitali Per Gli Artisti”
July 16, 2014 – La Bottega Di Hamlin ”Fair Digital Deals Declaration”, accordo tra 700 label indie”
July 16, 2014 – Cheese on Toast.nz “WORLD INDEPENDENT NETWORK Announces The Fair Digital Deals Declaration”
July 16, 2014 – The Audience “Fair Digital Deals Declaration Launched”
July 16, 2014 – New Zealand Music Commission “WIN Launches Fair Digital Declaration for Artists – IMNZ Endorsed”
July 16, 2014 – Yahoo News New Zealand “WIN launches Fair Digital Deals Declaration for artists”
July 16, 2014 – Voxy “WIN launches Fair Digital Deals Declaration for artists”
July 16, 2014 – Blitz “Grandes editoras independentes como Sub Pop, XL e Beggars juntam-se por um comércio mais justo”
July 16, 2014 – Algarve Notícias “Grandes editoras independentes juntam-se por um comércio mais justo”
July 16, 2014 – Porto Canal “Discográficas independentes querem mais justiça e transparência no comércio “online””
July 16, 2014 – Correio “Discográficas independentes querem mais justiça e transparência no comércio “online””
July 16, 2014 – Ohmynews “전 세계 음악 레이블, 디지털 시장 개선에 한 목소”
July 16, 2014 – 10asia “세계음악레이블연합체 WIN, 디지털음원시장 투명성 촉구”
July 16, 2014 – newsis “세계 인디펜던트 네트워크 ‘공정한 디지털 거래 선언”
July 16, 2014 – Starin “세계음악레이블연합체 “디지털 음악 시장 공존 위해 협의를”
July 17, 2014 – Le Devoir “Les labels veulent mieux partager”
July 16th, 2014 – Music Woche “750 Indies unterzeichneten bereits digitale Selbstverpflichtung”
July 16th , 2014 – Backstage Pro “Indies unterzeichnen “Fair Digital Deals Declaration””
July 16th, 2014 – Music Woche “Apropos: Initiative gegen den Kern des Übels”
July 15th, 2014 – Music Woche “VUT-Mitglieder unterzeichnen digitale Selbstverpflichtung“