The new world of on-line streaming is being recognized by the music industry as a new source of income but the artists that support those companies are lagging behind in compensation. Artists have often commented on the checks they receive for the use of their music on Spotify, Pandora, etc. that can be in minuscule amounts and falling even farther behind are the songwriters and publishers.
Intellectual property rights are a cornerstone of democracy. As a citizen, a creator and a consumer, I should have a reasonable expectation that I live in a society where thieves and outlaws are not allowed to run rampant – even when they are operating in cyberspace. But when lawmakers in North America and Europe tried to enact legislation that would help enforce laws against online fraud and theft, the technology sector said it would break the internet. They called it censorship.The full text of his speech can be seen at ASCAP's website.
Creators are in the business of free expression. Freedom of speech is about political speech, it is not about protecting fraud or theft. They trivialized what free speech means. Forces that want to control and diminish the value of our work for their own economic benefit are systematically attacking the rights of creators. They are methodically attacking the validity of copyright laws. They are building their businesses in a way that makes enforcement of our copyrights next to impossible.
The hope that creative work will pay off for the author, composer, filmmaker or photographer if it becomes successful is no longer a given. Fair payment has become another profound uncertainty in the professional life of every creator. This is true for people at the top of their game, and especially so for those just starting out. This is true globally – not just in the United States, in Canada, in the European Union – all over the world.
Recently, Pandora had an op-ed piece published in The Hill, the daily congressional newspaper, attacking ASCAP for their advocacy efforts. Williams, once again, responded with a plea to fairness by all types of media that use the songs written by the members of his organization.
Songwriters and composers are struggling in the digital economy to be paid fairly for their creative work. Pandora is trying every trick in the book to brazenly and unconscionably underpay and take advantage of the creative labor that produces the core offering of their business – music written by individual songwriters and composers. ASCAP has an ethical obligation to serve and protect the hundreds of thousands of small and independent songwriters, composers and music publishers we represent to ensure that they receive fair compensation when their songs are performed on any technology platforms. Internet and traditional AM/FM radio services are very different businesses with different formats, using music in very different ways. Pandora’s claims against songwriters and publishers further proves the importance of ASCAP’s mission to protect the human rights of its songwriter and composer members to be treated fairly by businesses that publicly perform their music in this new digital era.