“The big print giveth and the small print taketh away. ”
- Tom Waits
The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organisation that represents the interests of the global independent music community, has announced a major new initiative, ‘The Fair Digital Deals Declaration,’ which will be launched with a Worldwide Declaration Signing Day today.
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.
The campaign can be followed on Twitter from the @winformusic account throughout the day where updates from trade associations and labels across the world, including photos and Declaration signing news, will be added using the hashtag #fairdigitaldeal4artists.
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. The artist community has understandably expressed growing concern about the apparent disparity between the value of the overall deal to the rights holder versus the per-stream rate which is often the only revenue shared with the artist. As it is the artist whose work creates all such revenues, the WIN community has determined to adopt a clear stance for the artist community.
The WIN Declaration makes it clear that signatory companies will share the benefits of dealing with digital services fairly and clearly with artists. This is to amplify our commitment to fairness and transparency, and to ensuring a sustainable economic relationship between the independent recorded music industry and the artists it partners with to bring their music to market.
There are 5 key points to the declaration as follows:
- We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
- We will account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetization of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.
- We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.
- We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
- We will support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Manifesto.
Any label signing up to this declaration will also commit to communicating to their artists that they have signed the Declaration. They will agree to attach a signed copy of the Declaration to their artists’ royalty statements at the next royalty payment run to demonstrate their support for the initiative.
In order to sign up you will need to download the Fair Digital Deal Declaration from here, sign and send to firstname.lastname@example.org. To view a full list of companies so far that have committed to the declaration please visit the signatories page here.
Our special thanks to Tom Waits for permission to use his quote.