The music business has historically been a hotbed of sheisty accounting and fine-print chicanery, and the new digital landscape allows bigger companies a few thousand new ways to screw artists out of money. But here’s some good news: A group of more than 700 indie labels have banded together to form the Worldwide Independent Network and to sign the “Fair Digital Deals Declaration,” a sweeping initiative designed to make sure indie labels, and their artists, get their fair share of the digital-revenue pie.
Billboard reports that the indies signing up include XL, Domino, Sub Pop, Merge, Matador, 4AD, Rough Trade, Cooking Vinyl, Epitaph, Tommy Boy, Secretly Canadian, Saddle Creek, and Ninja Tune. Among them, those labels are responsible for a lot of record sales, especially when you consider that Adele, the best-selling artist of the last few years, is on XL. Today, they’re launching the campaign with a Worldwide Declaration signing day.
A big part of the Declaration is that the labels agree with five key points, and those points are as follows:
1. Ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
2. Account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetization of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.
3. Encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetization of music.
4. Support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
5. Support the collective position of the global independent record company sector.
The main point is that major-labels shouldn’t be getting sweetheart deals with streaming and digital services, that indies should be getting the same opportunities. There’s also a manifesto, in which the signatories declare that they “oppose further consolidation in the recorded music, publishing and radio sectors since this is bad for independent music companies, their artists and fans.”