Performers, exex sing royalty accountability

Artists, entertainment panel expected to vote on bill next week

HOLLYWOOD — Singers Jennifer Warnes and Kim Weston, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists prexy John Connolly and former CBS Records chief Walter Yetnikoff testified Tuesday in support of proposed California legislation requiring record companies to accurately account for performer royalties.

The quartet appeared at a hearing in Sacramento held by the Assembly’s committee on arts, entertainment, sports, tourism and Internet media on Senate Bill 1034, approved by the upper house more than a year ago.

Warnes presented the committee with her own royalty statements while Yetnikoff told the panel that government intervention in the arena is called for in order to level the playing field.

AFTRA has argued that the only alternative to relying on a company’s accounting is to conduct an audit, which most recording artists cannot afford since taking such a step can easily run $30,000 in legal and accounting fees.

Recording Industry Assn. of America chief Mitch Bainwol spoke against the bill at Tuesday’s hearing. Record labels have contended such legislation is counterproductive and that contracts offer artists extensive recourse in disputes.

Talking it over

State Sen. Kevin Murray, a Los Angeles Democrat and former talent agent who authored the legislation, told Daily Variety he’s been unable to convince the industry to support the idea despite extensive discussions over revising the bill.

“We definitely have the votes to get this approved but the industry does not feel they have to do anything,” he added.

The artists and entertainment panel is expected to vote next week on the legislation, triggering a June 22 vote by the Assembly judiciary committee. If approved, the bill would go to the full Assembly.

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