Growing Music Streaming Industry Leaves Performers By The Wayside, Speakers Say 05/05/2017 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)There is growing worry and resentment among music performers around the world about the low level of their remuneration and the fact that they are mostly missing their share of the internet music streaming pie, according to speakers at an event held at the World Intellectual Property Organization this week. Performers need a change in international rules, in particular a right to remuneration, they said. Music was an integral part of the side event organised by the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) held on 2 May. The subject of the event, held on the side of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), was about enabling fair online revenues for all performers. Abdoul Aziz Dieng, SCCR Vice-Chair, Daren Tang, SCCR Chair, Luis Cobos, composer and conductor, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, Sylvie Forbin, WIPO Deputy Director Genera, and Benoit Machuel, FIM general secretary WIPO Director General Francis Gurry opening the event said in 2015 the music industry expanded for the first time in 20 years, facilitated by “new and interesting business models,” which increased digital sales. The digital environment led to significant disruption in the value chain, he said, and a question that remains is “where does this leave the performers,” he said, and who is deriving the value in this new value chain. Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General There are different views about this, said Gurry, but “we do not have enough evidence.” He added that WIPO hired a new person in the WIPO chief economist’s office to look at the value chain and to see how the musicians are faring in these newly created value chains in the digital world. This is a fundamental question, he said, as “without musicians and performers, where are we?” Xavier Blanc, general secretary of AEPO-ARTIS said the central question does not only concern the musical sphere, but also the audiovisual. There is a huge increase in the use of music and audiovisual content, he said, but “we have a problem.” Apart from famous ones, in most cases performers receive nothing. Even on paid platforms, performers get nothing from that, he said. Artists Support GRULAC Proposal Luis Cobos, composer and conductor, president of FILAIE (the Ibero-Latin American Federation of Performers) said the current copyright system does not adequately protect the intellectual property of performers. He underlined the proposal [pdf] made by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) suggesting the need for an analysis of copyright related to the digital environment. In particular Cobos, as noted in the GRULAC proposal, said WIPO members adopted the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). The two treaties include a new independent right: the “making available” right. According to the proposal, after the adoption of these treaties, new services emerged in the digital environment, “with substantial changes in the way protected intellectual goods are produced and distributed.” “Nowadays, there is a multiplicity of services whose prevailing trend seems to be the access to works rather than the transference of ownership or possession. Normally, these services need licenses of more than one right, which maintains correlation with the technological solutions that are used,” it said. Xavier Blanc, Nacho Garcia Vega, Luis Cobos, and Benoit Machuel The recently adopted Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (2012), “also brought the provision of the equitable remuneration as an option to the exclusive right to authorise the direct and indirect use of interpretations and executions embedded into fixations of audiovisual works for broadcasting and communication to the public,” according to the proposal. The low payment to creators, composers, songwriters and performers is the most visible part of the impact of technological advances in the use of protected works in the digital environment, Cobos said. Digital technology has allowed wider access to music to society, but with little benefit to creators, he said. Music Industry Optimistic, Performers Not So Lucky FIM Secretary General Benoit Machuel remarked on another side event, also held on 2 May, and organised by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) (IPW, WIPO, 4 May 2017). He said it is encouraging to see that the music market is growing and streaming services are taking over, raising hopes that the value of the music market would be back to what it was at the turn of the century. However, he said, this optimism “hides a true problem.” During the IFPI event, he said, he heard that record companies are trying to create value for performers, but this is a “bit misleading,” he added. There is an “enormous frustration growing in the performers’ community,” he said. Contracting performers get paid one-off fees when recording then do not get further payment from streaming and downloads, he said. He said the solution would be that streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Music, pay directly the performers’ remuneration to collective societies representing those performers. Whatever the type of contracts the performers are working under would not influence their right to remuneration, he added, and they would not be left without anything when their creation is used on internet. In 1996 with the WPPT, “we were so happy and enthusiastic,” he said, as performers thought the treaty would solve the issue of remuneration. But “we did not anticipate what is happening now … we are now already facing an obsolescent treaty,” he added. Nacho Garcia Vega, a singer, composer and guitarist, president of the International Artist Organisation (music artists) (IAO), said the organisation groups European national organisations representing the rights and interests of artists in the music industry. Live music at side event: Jimi D. Band The IAO sprung from a “natural and spontaneous movement” in 2015, he said, coming from artists’ growing worry about the remuneration they get from the online exploitation of their work. Blanc remarked that most artists have no bargaining power and cannot negotiate and defend their making available right, which is the only way of creating remuneration right, he said. A system needs to be devised, that is respecting international treaties, but guarantees a fair remuneration for artists. Cobos and Blanc further explained that when exclusive rights are transferred, in the context of a contract, a remuneration right should be created. The 34th session of the SCCR is taking place from 1-5 May. 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