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‘A dire situation’: EU orgs call for urgent investment

In an unprecedented display of European music-biz unity, a total of 36 industry associations – including festival association Yourope, managers’ bodies IMMF and EMMA, venue associations Live DMA and Liveurope and PRO collective Gesac – have written an open letter calling for urgent emergency aid for the entire EU music industry, which they warn is in crisis due to the continent-wide shutdown.

In the letter, addressed to both national governments and the EU Commission, the 36 warn of a “dire situation”, in which “festivals suspend their activities, performances are cancelled, group activity is stopped, shops close and new releases are put on hold”, threatening the European “music ecosystem”.

The signatories – which also include recording industry bodies IFPI and Impala, the European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep), the International Music Publishers Forum (IMPF), Live Performance Europe/Pearle* and showcase festival network INES – name “artists and their management, performers, composers, songwriters, music educators, conductors, booking agents, record shops, labels, publishers, distributors, promoters, manufacturers, technicians, events managers and event staff” as being among those “whose livelihoods are on the line.”

Funding is available at a national level in many European countries, including, in some territories, specialist aid for creative-sector freelancers. However, the associations urge that a coordinated Europe-wide approach is needed to stave off “profound harm” to the industry that will continue into 2021.

“We call for emergency … structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem”

“[W]e see how important the cultural sectors are in promoting solidarity and in providing rallying points,” they continue. “Within the confines of their homes, artists and DJs have been streaming their own live performances to fight isolation by engaging online communities. Drawing upon the example of Italy, citizens from across Europe gather on their balconies to play music and regain a shared sense of common purpose.

“This reminds us that music is a vehicle to recreate a sense of community. In times of containment and pressure, music builds bridges between individuals and cultures irrespective of social, ethnic, cultural backgrounds. […] As decision-makers reflect on how to address the crisis, culture must be recognised as a priority sector.”

The intervention comes as live music industry associations across Europe lobby to be allowed to offer ticket vouchers, or credit, in lieu of cash refunds, to avert a cashflow crisis, amid widespread cancellations.

Read the 36’s letter in full, as well as the list of 36 signatories, below.

 


Music is one of the first sectors hit by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. It will also be one of the last.

As borders close, venues as well as festivals suspend their activities, performances are cancelled, group activity is stopped, shops close, and new releases are put on hold, the entire creative value chain is stalling. Artists and their management, performers, composers, songwriters, music educators, conductors, booking agents, record shops, labels, publishers, distributors, promoters, manufacturers, technicians, events managers and event staff count among the many actors of the ecosystem whose livelihoods are on the line.

These risks will persist, even after the public health emergency is solved. The stark reality is that profound harm will be felt long into 2021 due to how the music ecosystem operates.

In light of this dire situation, we call for emergency as well as sustainable public support and structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem, and help it thrive again in all its diversity.

The undersigned music organisations urge Member States and the European Commission to take a stance and significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music. Secondly, under the EU Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, it is imperative that each Member State provides Europe’s creative sector with swift and comprehensive access to Structural Funds in order to offset the harm in the shorter term.

The full magnitude of the current turmoil will build for months and the number of casualties will be high. Even when the complete standstill ends, the crisis will continue due to hyper saturation of events and new releases and audiences will be unpredictable.

All this points to a slow recovery, with less job opportunities, less participation in music and less room for artistic risk-taking. Jobs and diversity are at stake.

At the same time, we see how important the cultural sectors are in promoting solidarity and in providing rallying points. Within the confines of their homes, artists and DJs have been streaming their own live performances to fight isolation by engaging online communities. Drawing upon the example of Italy, citizens from across Europe gather on their balconies to play music and regain a shared sense of common purpose.

This reminds us that music is a vehicle to recreate a sense of community. In times of containment and pressure, music builds bridges between individuals and cultures irrespective of social, ethnic, cultural backgrounds.

Music and culture are essential to offer citizens the renewed social and cultural bond that Europe will sorely need.

As decision makers reflect on how to address the crisis, culture must be recognised as a priority sector.

The undersigned organisations

AEC, Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen

CIME/ICEM, International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music

DME, Digital Music Europe

ECA-EC, European Choral Association – Europa Cantat

ECSA, European Composer and Songwriter Alliance

EFNYO, European Federation of National Youth Orchestra

EMC, European Music Council

EMCY, European Union of Music Competitions for Youth

EMEE, European Music Exporters Exchange

EMMA, European Music Managers Alliance

ETEP, European Talent Exchange Programme

Europavox

EJN, Europe Jazz Network

EVTA, European Voice Teachers Association

FIM, International Federation of Musicians

GESAC, the European Authors Societies

IAMIC, International Association of Music Centres

IAO, International Artist Organisation of Music

ICAS, International Cities of Advanced Sound

ICMP, International Confederation of Music Publishers

ICSM, International Society for Contemporary Music

IFPI, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry

IMMF, International Music Managers Forum

IMPF, Independent Music Publishers International Forum

IMPALA, Independent music compagnies associations

INES, Innovation Network of European Showcases

JMI, Jeunesses Musicales International

JUMP, European Music Market Accelerator

Keychange

Live DMA, European network for music venues and festivals

Liveurope, the platform for new European Talent

Pearle*, Live Performance Europe

SHAPE, Sound Heterogenous Art and Performance in Europe

REMA, European Early Music Network

We are Europe

Yourope, the European festival Association

 


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European PROs drum up support before second Article 13 vote

Global music rights bodies, including the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (Cisac), European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (Gesac) and International Council of Music Authors (CIAM), today launched Europe for Creators, a new venture aimed at securing a vote in favour of the controversial EU Copyright Directive on 12 September.

The second vote follows an earlier defeat for the bill, on 5 July, which was met with disappointment by much of the music industry. Music industry bodies, especially collection societies/performance rights organisations, and their counterparts in the tech sector are sharply divided on the merits of the new directive, especially its controversial Article 13: songwriters’ representatives say the legislation would ensure fair remuneration of creators when their works are used online, while internet freedom activists, including the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee, have said it would transform the internet into a “tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

Article 13, if passed, would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures to combat the sharing of copyrighted works.

Internet freedom activists claim this would effectively ban memes – the internet fads, often in the form of a humorous picture or video overlaid with text, that spread virally across the web – leading creators to repackage popular memes sans copyrighted material, to highlight what they see as the absurdity of the proposed legislation.

This, however, is not true, says Europe for Creators: memes and animated gifs are already protected under existing legislation, Directive 2001/29/EC, with companies such as Google – the owner of YouTube, a platform frequently targeted by those wishing to close the ‘value gap’ between the online use of music and payment of creators – simply wishing to “hide” from their responsibilities to fairly compensate authors.

“We have enriched the lives of Europeans, and now we are calling on Europe to act”

In a launch statement, Europe for Creators says it calls on “all citizens to preserve culture and democracy in Europe” in the face of what it calls a “massive lobbying campaign” by tech companies, who, it is alleged, are profiting from the use of music online without fairly remunerating creators.

“Digital economic powers continue to profit as working artists struggle to make ends meet,” says Véronique Desbrosses (pictured), Gesac’s general manager. “The balance between the revenues generated by internet platforms and the money they give to the creators who are responsible for their success is entirely distorted.”

In the coming days, the coalition will send an open letter to all members of the European parliament, “activat[ing] them in this fight”, as well as organising “strike events” to take place in several European cities in the run-up to the vote.

“The creative and cultural industry in the European Union represents €536 billion per year, more than the combined revenue of the automotive and telecoms sectors, and is responsible for 12 million jobs,” says Desbrosses. “We have enriched the lives of Europeans, and now we are calling on Europe to act.”

 


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“A setback but not the end”: Rights bodies lament Article 13 defeat

Collecting societies and performance rights organisations across Europe have reacted with disappointment to the rejection of the proposed EU Copyright Directive by MEPs earlier today.

In the run-up to today’s vote, music industry bodies and their counterparts in the tech sector were sharply divided on the merits of the new directive, especially its controversial Article 13: songwriters’ representatives say the legislation would ensure fair remuneration of creators when their works are used online, while internet freedom activists, including the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee, have said it would transform the internet into a “tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

Music biz, internet on collision course ahead of Article 13 vote

The directive’s critics are particularly concerned that Article 13 – which would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures to combat the sharing of copyrighted works – would require the implementation of automated copyright checking systems, dubbed “censorship machines” or “upload filters”.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted this morning 318–278 in favour of rejecting the bill in its current form, with a further plenary session debating its content set for September. “I regret that a majority of MEPs did not support the position which I and the legal affairs committee have been advocating,” says German MEP Axel Voss. But this is part of the democratic process. We will now return to the matter in September for further consideration and attempt to address people’s concerns while bringing our copyright rules up to date with the modern digital environment.”

Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of the UK’s PRS for Music, says lobbying by big tech companies – if you believe UK Music, €31m from Google alone – influenced the outcome of the vote. “It is perhaps unsurprising, considering the unprecedented level of lobbying and the comprehensive campaign of misinformation which has accompanied this vote, that MEPs want more time to consider the proposals,” says Ashcroft.

“The vote showed that many MEPs across the various European political parties understand the importance of fixing the transfer of value and of a well-functioning market for copyright. We appreciate their support and hope that as we move forward to the plenary debate in September, more MEPs will recognise the unique opportunity to secure the EU’s creative industries.

“We will not be discouraged by today’s decision, and will continue to mobilise the support of musicians and music lovers across the world”

“From the outset, our primary focus of this legislation has been concerned with whether or not the internet functions as a fair and efficient marketplace – and currently, for artists and authors, it doesn’t. They want their creative works to be heard, they embrace technology, but they want to be paid fairly. We will continue to fight for what we believe is their freedom and a fair use of their creative works.”

David El Sayegh, the secretary-general of PRS’s French counterpart, Sacem, comments: “This vote is a setback but it is not the end. Sacem remains dedicated to ensuring that creators are recognised and remunerated for the value of their work. We will not be discouraged by today’s decision and will continue to mobilise the support of musicians and music lovers across the world, in the hopes of reaching a fair agreement with these platforms that will safeguard the future of the music industry.

“We are confident that the European Parliament will eventually support a framework that fully acknowledges the rights of creators in the digital landscape of the 21st century.”

BPI, the association of UK record labels and organiser of the Brit Awards, says in a statement: “We respect the decision by MEPs to have a plenary discussion on the draft Copyright Directive. We will work with MEPs over the next weeks to explain how the proposed directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also internet users and the technology sector.”

Gesac (the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers), which represents 31 collection societies, says the defeat marks a “missed opportunity to fix the current unfairness in the digital market once and for all”.

“The EU parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyrighted material is not an easy and simple fix”

“This vote was never about censorship or freedom of speech. It was only about updating the copyright rules for the 21st century and ensuring that creators get a fair remuneration when their works are used in the digital space,” says Gesac president Anders Lassen. “[U]nfortunately, manipulative campaigns orchestrated by tech giants, based on scaremongering, prevailed on this occasion. We are confident that the European Parliament will finally approve what is right for the future of the EU’s economy, competitiveness and fundamental values against these global forces”.

While PRS and their allies have sought to paint the ‘no’ vote as a temporary stay on the legislation while MEPs consider their options, the directive’s opponents are, unsurprisingly, claiming victory in what privacy campaigner Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, calls “round one of the robo-copyright wars”.

“The EU parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyrighted material is not an easy and simple fix. They’ve heard the massive opposition, including internet blackouts and 750,000 people petitioning them against these proposals.

“Everyone across Europe who wants this fixed will have to work hard to make sure that parliament comes up with a sensible way forward by September.”

Meanwhile, Julia Reda, an MEP for Pirate Party Germany, tweeted that anti-Article 13 campaigners’ “protests have worked”:

The next vote will take place from 10 to 13 September 2018.

This article will be updated.

 


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Police raids and walk-outs as AEPI probe heats up

Relations between Greek artists and AEPI, the embattled collection society purporting to represent their interests, have reached an all-time low amid more police raids on the homes of its management.

Greek police last week searched the Athens home of Petros Xanthopoulos, AEPI’s managing director, and his son, AEPI director-general Dimitrios, as part of an investigation into purported financial mismanagement. AEPI’s headquarters, in Marousi, were raided in February following an Ernst & Young audit that revealed the copyright collective owes rightsholders €42 million in unpaid royalties, despite shareholders allegedly paying themselves salaries of up to €52,000 a month.

The latest police searches came as more than 450 members of the Metron society of composers and lyricists, including its president and CEO, singer-songwriter Foivos Delivorias, resigned en masse in protest at the association’s handling of the crisis.

In an open letter, Delivorias decried the “soft approach” taken by several board members towards AEPI, alleging that Manolis Famellos, Stathis Drogosis and Foivos Tassopoulos (‘Phoebus’) “move[d] against the collective will of our association” by attending alleged ‘secret’ meetings with the governing Syriza party in which they agreed to concessions that are “not in [Metron’s] interests”.

“We have an historic responsibility to solve a major problem that has plagued our country for 80 years”

Metron counters that the use of plurals in Delivorias’s letter deliberately “distorts” the issue. The incident, says Metron, involved one member – since departed – and has been dredged up by Delivorias and his backers, known as the ‘450+’, as a “cheap shot” against the association.

Syriza’s response to the allegations against AEPI has been to sponsor legislation that would temporarily place the Greek ministry of culture, through an appointed commissioner, in control of the society.

If passed, the bill, says Syriza – whose leader, Alexis Tsipras, is prime minister of Greece – would “bring order to the process of collection and distribution of royalties, ensuring transparency and accountability [for] creators and licensees”, with a board elected by AEPI members.

However, Yannis Glezos, a former member of AEPI who is now president of rival collection society Autodia, says any deal is unacceptable without the dismissal of AEPI’s current board of directors.

“This bill will bring order to the collection and distribution of royalties”

Calling the intervention by the government “suspiciously late; months after the conclusion of the audit”, he – on behalf of the 450+ – demands the “immediate dismissal” of the existing board (“You cannot be co-shareholders with those who have been proven to be bad with other people’s money”), and that the new commissioner be a neutral party who has “no relation to our industry, and our self-interest and passions”.

“We have an historic responsibility to solve a major problem that has plagued our country and culture for 80 years,” Glezos wrote to members ahead of a press conference planned for Monday. “In this struggle, we have all European legislation, and creators and the organisations who represent them, on our side. It is time to be with Greece.”

Meanwhile, Cisac, the international association of collection societies of which AEPI is a member, has called for the society to “introduce urgent reforms to comply with Cisac’s global best practices and professional rules”.

While it has not expressed an opinion on the dismissal of AEPI’s board, Cisac says it is “evaluating new measures to address the findings of a recent government audit of the Greek society. These could include sanctions, such as expulsion from Cisac and Gesac [European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers] membership.”

 


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