Discrimination Based on Nationality Costs Creators Millions of Dollars
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24, 2020 – SoundExchange joined with a coalition of music industry groups to launch the “Fair Trade of Music” campaign to fight for the fair and equal treatment of music creators when their music is played in markets around the world. Many countries currently discriminate against some non-native music creators by denying them royalties for the use of their work, despite royalties being otherwise paid to creators who are nationals of those countries for the exact same use.
The coalition, which includes SoundExchange, American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), American Federation of Musicians, Future of Music Coalition, Gospel Music Association, Music Artists Coalition, Music Managers Forum – U.S., Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and musicFIRST, was launched to ensure that fair treatment provisions are included in any new free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and U.K. Specifically, the coalition is seeking the inclusion of “national treatment” provisions in a U.S.-U.K. FTA that would ensure that U.S. music creators are paid for the use of their music in the U.K. Without national treatment provisions to ensure fair treatment, U.S. music creators are losing millions of dollars in royalties. Globally, U.S. music creators lose more than $330 million in royalties every year without universal national treatment protection.
“Equal treatment is fundamental to international law, and this principle should extend to all music creators, no matter where they are from, who deserve to be paid fairly for their work,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe. “Our goal is to end discrimination in the global trade of music. That should be a priority for our entire industry, including recording artists and labels on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. The ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and U.K. present an opportunity to make significant progress toward that goal.”
“Musicians should be paid when their work is used, and their right to be paid fairly shouldn’t depend on which nation they call home. We have a chance to get this right in the US-UK negotiation–it’s one small provision that could make a massive difference for music creators who’ve always deserved equal treatment and now need it more than ever as many of their other revenue streams have disappeared.” – Kevin Erickson, Director, Future of Music Coalition.
“Artists share music that brings people together with a power not subject to international borders. That’s priceless. Ideally, we’d see all countries honor that by protecting the rights of music creators to be fairly compensated for all uses of their work. But at an absolute minimum, all countries should treat all artists by the same rules under their laws.” – Neeta Ragoowansi, President, Music Managers Forum – U.S.
“Music is universal, and at its best it inspires our best values, including equity, inclusion, and hope. We have an opportunity during the U.S.-U.K. trade agreement negotiations to right a wrong, fix an inequity, and give much needed remuneration to U.S. sound recording artists. The music made by U.S. creators is loved around the world, and the artists who make that music deserve to be paid when it is played. Let’s get this right and get our music creators paid for UK radio airplay.” – Jeffrey Bennett, Chief Deputy General Counsel, SAG-AFTRA
Last week, the U.S. organizations sent a joint letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, urging him to make full national treatment for sound recordings a priority in future trade agreements, particularly in the ongoing U.S.-U.K. negotiations. In this letter, the music industry groups pledged to work with Ambassador Lighthizer to achieve full national treatment for American music creators in all future trade agreements.
U.S. music creators are gaining fair trade protection as national treatment provisions become more common in international trade agreements. In February, SoundExchange filed comments asking the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to take action against countries that refuse to give American recording artists and labels full national treatment. In a report released in April, the USTR recognized the importance of securing national treatment for U.S. and other rights holders. In March, the Government of Canada fully implemented the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which grants national treatment protection to U.S. music creators in Canada.
The Fair Trade of Music website can be accessed here: https://www.fairtradeofmusic.com.
SoundExchange provides royalty solutions for sound recordings and publishing, serving as a critical backbone to today’s digital music industry. The organization collects and distributes digital performance royalties on behalf of more than 200,000 recording artists’ and master rights owners’ accounts. Its technology solutions help turn massive amounts of data into accurate revenue for creators and include: Music Data Exchange (MDX), International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) Search, and the Notice of Intention to Use (NOI) LOOKUP. To date, SoundExchange has paid out more than $7 billion in royalties. For more information, visit www.SoundExchange.com.