Fair Digital Deals Declaration

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.

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.

 

DECLARATION

Read the declaration and sign up HERE.

 

SIGNATORIES

See the list of current signatories HERE.

 

INDUSTRY SUPPORT

BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors)

BASCA, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and home of The Ivors, is officially announcing its support and solidarity for WIN (Worldwide Independent Network who represent the interests of independent record labels worldwide), IMPALA (independent record labels in Europe) and AIM (independent record labels in the UK) in their campaign against Youtube’s deal making practices with independent labels.

BASCA firmly believes that negotiations between all parties should be fairly and transparently conducted.

Youtube are imposing unfair contracting conditions on independent labels and they also insist collecting societies make contracts under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) which mean that they cannot share with their own membership the rates achieved for their work. This prevents writers from being able to complain about the downturn in their income from some digital sources, a matter BASCA members are increasingly concerned about.

BASCA Chairman Simon Darlow, co-writer of Slave to the Rhythm (Grace Jones) and numerous hits for artists from Cliff Richard and Toyah, now a media composer of more than 130 TV themes including the Premier League anthem, BBC news channels, talkSPORT radio and shows for Chris Tarrant:

“BASCA is against NDAs which hide what appear to be poor streaming rates for songwriters and composers. We cannot afford to let these practices undermine the value of songwriting and composing and leave the music industry with a talent drain which will affect the UK both culturally and financially.”

FAC (Featured Artiss Coalition)

The FAC (Featured Artiss Coalition) welcomes and supports the new ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’ made yesterday by the World Independent Network (WIN) and a multitude of independent labels. We applaud how this sets the bar for industry-wide transparency and best practice in its dealings with artists.

In recent years, there have been widespread reports, shrouded in the secrecy of Non-Disclosure Agreements, that digital deals with distributors contain huge upfront payments.

These ‘catalogue-access fees’ or Non-Artist Specific Advances are rumoured to run into hundreds of millions of dollars with long-term royalty rates being significantly lowered in exchange. Unfortunately, it is these rates upon which artist payments are based and excess income that is not attributable to individual artists goes straight to the bottom line of the companies concerned

We understand the financial risk involved in licensing new platforms, especially given the volatile and highly competitive nature of the digital environment. But surely artists should participate in all revenues that derive from catalogue value, however the financial deals are structured?

WIN describe this in terms of fairness. The FAC would go one step further and say that all labels should have a fiduciary duty to artists, as well as their shareholders, to protect and grow the value of the copyrights which are core to their business, and conduct third-party agreements with artists’ best, long-term interests in mind.

This declaration is a huge step forward for the record business and their relationships with artists and we look forward to seeing the list of participants grow to encompass all those who invest in those artists.

MU (Musicians Union)

The MU (Musicians Union) supports The Fair Digital Deals Declaration, launched by the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN).

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.

MPG (Music Producers Guild)

“The music industry has a long history of unfairly exploiting the work of artists without whose creativity the industry would simply not exist,” says producer and MPG (Music Producers Guild) executive board member Mick Glossop. “The Fair Digital Deals Declaration is a welcome initiative, which seeks to address those injustices by promoting transparency and accountability.”