UPDATED: In the wake of Monday’s news that Universal has joined Sony and Warner in sharing with its artists any profit generated by the sales of the company’s equity in Spotify when the streaming service launches its direct listing on the stock exchange later this month, the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the London-based global organization that represents the interests of the independent music community, has called upon the majors to share that money with the indie labels they distribute and their artists.
A rep from Sony Music Entertainment tells Variety that the company will share that money with its distributed labels; at press time, the other two majors, Universal and Warner, had not responded to requests for comment.
The majors’ combined interest in Spotify has been reported to be as high as 18%, although knowledgeable sources tell Variety it is actually “much lower.”
In a statement, the organization — of which the American Association of Independent Music is a member — reiterates its commitment to its 2014 Fair Digital Deals Declaration, and has “further called on Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music and Universal Music Group to give the independent labels distributed by them, and therefore those artists they represent, their corresponding share of any payout received.
“The independent artist community has expressed growing concern about their share of these revenues following the forthcoming listing,” the statement continues, “and in response WIN has re-affirmed the commitments made under The Fair Digital Deals Declaration and has adopted a clear stance that amplifies its continuing adherence to fairness and transparency.”
(The full text of the Fair Digital Deals Declaration appears below.)
In the statement, WIN CEO Alison Wenham (pictured above) said, “The Fair Digital Deals Declaration is a voluntary initiative launched in 2014 and is a clear statement of those labels’ commitment to their artists. With the forthcoming Spotify listing, which will value the company at an estimated $19bn, they have the perfect opportunity to reiterate their position and more labels are expected to sign up over the coming weeks. We are fully focused on ensuring a sustainable economic relationship between the independent recorded music industry and the artists it represents.”
Martin Mills, Beggars Group Founder and Chair of WIN, said: “It is entirely appropriate that independents, who have given birth to every significant new musical movement over the last 70 years, should take the lead in committing to fair and reasonable treatment of all artists and application of contract terms as the digital era continues to move into uncharted waters.”
LABELS’ FAIR DIGITAL DEALS DECLARATION
We make the following declaration in connection with the distribution of recordings in digital services.
- Ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
- 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.
- Encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.
- Support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
- Support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Standard – see winformusic.org
We wholly disapprove of certain practices, which leave artists under-recompensed and under-informed in the digital marketplace and will work together with the artist community to counter these practices.