Martes 7 de Mayo de 2002, Ip nš 14

If we don't do it companies will keep cheating the new generations of artists
Por Mariana Enriquez

The almighty industries have been little by little getting a close enemy: artists themselves. It is not about isolated opinions, but an American association, the Recording Artist Coalition (RAC), which is threatening industry as we know it.


The group was founded by Don Henley, leader of The Eagles, and it counts 140 members including Madonna, Elton John, REM, Carole King, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters, Tom Waits, Beck and even Billy Joel.


The association was born in 1999, when a lobbyist from the Recording Industry Association of America (the companies' political arm in the US) succeeded after hard pressure at modifying an old copyright law so that it outrageously benefited the disc companies.

Until then, the copyright law established that the companies owed the recordings for a lapse of 35 years. When that period ended, the songs were returned to the authors or their families. The only exception occurred when the companies claimed a certain recording was "hired work". As a result, the company ended up as the recording's owner and author for the whole copyright term, which can last for as long as 95 years.

What the RIAA did in 1999 was to try to make a technical modification in the copyright law so that all recordings would be considered "hired work".

Finally, the RAC could hit the industry for the first time, and legislators decided to back off and return to the situation previous to 1999.


The struggle for copyright cost the RAC 300 thousand dollars; that is why they are currently collecting money in festivals especially organized for that purpose.


"Even the most bohemian of the artists is today aware of the disc companies' abuses," says Don Henley, founder of the RAC.

"We know that no one likes hearing a millionaire musician complaining, but if we don't do it companies will keep cheating the new generations of artists".


The RAC's new objectives have already been defined. Now they want to stop or control "payola" (a practice by which companies pay millions for independent promotion to intermediaries who in exchange grant diffusion on the radio trusts). They claim that "it chokes creativity and helps explaining the lack of innovation in today's musical scene. There's no place for diversity when a certain kind of music is buying its air time."

They will also by fighting for their rights on the Internet (the RAC wants to be paid like authors are, directly and not through refunds, even in interactive systems such as Napster, Kazaa, etc).


But Courtney Love carries on in her cause by herself. She goes even further and affirms that "companies go between artists and their fans. We sign awful contracts because they control our access to the audience. But in a completely connected world, companies lose that power. They're scared because artists can sell records directly to our fans. (...) Business has taken from our culture the idea that music is something emotionally important. But new technology is giving us a chance to change it all: we can destroy the old system and give musicians and fans true freedom of election".

To read the original article click here.

  28/04/2002. Radar Magazine.