Over 700 Indie Labels Unite for "Fair Digital Deals Declaration"

Over 700 Indie Labels Unite for "Fair Digital Deals Declaration"
Last month, an array of high-profile indie labels banded together to protest YouTube's allegedly unfair contracts surrounding its new paid subscription service. Now, the global indie organization Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) has launched a new initiative called the "Fair Digital Deals Declaration" that aims to get artists fair compensation for their music being made available digitally.

Today (July 16) is Worldwide Declaration Signing Day for WIN (which includes the Canadian Independent Music Association) and over 700 indie labels from around the world have come on board, including Domino, Epitaph, Nettwerk, Sup Pop, Ninja Tune, Beggars Group (4AD, Matador Records, Rough Trade, XL Recordings), Secretly Label Group (Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans, the Numero Group), Saddle Creek, Tommy Boy, Captured Tracks, Secret City Records and more.

Under the "Fair Digital Deals Declaration," here are the five key points that the signatories agree to abide by:

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.

As you can see, the new declaration promises more transparency and fairness for artists, particularly in regards to rights holders who grant streaming services access to music in exchange for lump sum payments. The manifesto also says that the network will support artists who oppose the unauthorized use of their music. While this is geared towards independent artists, all labels are encouraged to sign on.

You can view the full declaration, signatories and FAQ on CIMA's website here.

In addition to the declaration, the Worldwide Independent Network also shared a "Global Independent Manifesto." This argues that indie labels "deserve equal market access and parity of terms with Universal, Sony and Warner, and an independent copyright should be valued and remunerated at the same level as a major company copyright."

WIN exec Alison Wenham said in a statement, "A healthy commercial relationship based on mutual trust and partnership between artists and labels is critical to the long term financial health of our industry. We believe that this new initiative, which seeks to put in place simple, fair and transparent guidelines for labels dealing with third party digital partners is a template for best practice. We invite companies — majors and indies — to join the hundreds of companies who have already signed and put a stop to the practise of diverting revenues from the artists without whom we would not have a business."

Group chairman of the Beggars Group Martin Mills added, "Why wouldn't we treat artists fairly? It seems so obvious that we shouldn't have to say it, but let's say it, loud and proud."

A press release from WIN makes no mention of the recent clash with YouTube, but it's clearly addressing the same issues. Similar concerns have frequently been raised in recent years, with artists criticizing the low royalties they receive for streaming their music on services such as Spotify.

For today's Worldwide Declaration Signing Day, the campaign is running on Twitter with the hashtag #fairdigitaldeal4artists.