On Music’s Biggest Stage, Stars Raise Fair Pay for Artistson February 9, 2015 at 6:54 pm
If you’re going to launch a campaign for the benefit of musicians, there are few better options than the stage at the Grammys. Broadcasting to an international audience and lighting up social media, there are clear reasons for the Creators Alliance to use the 57th incarnation of the music awards ceremony to call for fair pay to artists.
If not a brand new demand, it’s one that is becoming louder every year.
Starting with various legal disputes over rates and restrictions on royalty payments involving Sirius XM and Pandora, then on to Taylor Swift’s boycott of Spotify over payments and now a high-profile lobbying announcement from arguably music’s biggest stage, it’s clear that creators are beginning to see the importance of new digital business models to their industry. Influencing the way this next iteration of the industry develops is a prime opportunity for artists, especially considering the more passive role they’ve been forced to take in years gone by.
Introduced by Neil Portnow, head of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), and R&B star Jennifer Hudson, the Creators Alliance’s objective is to provide“a powerful, amplified voice to advance policies that put music-makers first.” Set against the backdrop of ongoing discussions over the future of copyright in Washington D.C., one of the first issues that voice must speak up on is how artists are compensated.
As digital revenues shift into new types of services and fans make up their minds about where they want to spend their money on music, it will become increasingly important for artists to have a say in how their work is presented and, more importantly, paid for. For the superstars like Taylor Swift and even many of those backing up this new alliance, whose numbers include Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Alicia Keys, and electronic music icon Deadmau5, the strength of their industry influence is enough to make their voices heard individually.
For millions more artists around the country, however, this isn’t the case. Their profiles are too small to make a significant impact on the debate over what constitutes fair pay for artists, despite the fact that they have the most at stake in it. Even the slightest increase or decrease in compensation at the lower levels of music-making can mean the difference between a full-time career or a part-time hobby in the creative industries.
Developing a business model that rewards both creators and the digital distribution systems that deliver their music to fans is a sensible goal, but one that has tended to focus too much on the side of technology in recent years. And with Apple set to enter the environment in a big way later this year, the arrival of the Creators Alliance could not be more appropriately timed.
All too often it is those who create the music we love who come dead last in the decision-making around where their songs will be available and how much they cost to access. If the Creators Alliance can shift even some of the leverage back towards music makers, it will be a voice worth shouting about.