Radiohead: US Music Biz Has One Advantage

UK Musicians Lobby for Ownership of Their Work

By Published on .

Thom Yorke, Radiohead
Photo: WENN

Radiohead and other British artists are banding together for ownership rights.

UK pop and rock stars are taking action to try to gain ownership and control of their work from record labels. Robbie Williams, Radiohead, Kaiser Chiefs and The Verve are among the acts who have signed up to a new pressure group, the Featured Artists' Coalition.

According to a number of reports on the BBC, the group wants artists to keep the rights to the music they create and to have a greater say in how their songs are sold -- and a bigger slice of the takings, naturally. At the moment, record labels normally own the rights to the music their artists make, though the artists often get "charged" back all the recording and marketing costs against their advances. Instead, the body is proposing that artists should own the rights but lease them back to labels, technology companies or anyone else for that matter, for up to 35 years, as happens in the US.

The coalition also wants its members to be consulted more fully on how their music is used, the ways it is sold and who gets the money, particularly in regard the increasing number of deals done by labels and publishers with new digital services. "Record and technology companies are signing agreements to deliver music to fans in new ways," the Featured Artists' Coalition charter says. "Artists are not involved in these negotiations and their interests are likely to be overlooked. Artists should receive fair compensation as part of these new deals."

While labels, management companies and agents are still feeling their way in the brand partnership world -- particularly since a lot of current deals are promotional or exposure-oriented rather than hard-cash generating for them -- these partnerships are becoming an increasing source of revenue for their artists and will no doubt come under the same land grab for revenue streams that artists are now fighting off. Agencies and brands need to be aware of the multiple number of "interested parties" when putting together these types of deals, and this coalition is a potent reminder.

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Mike Tunnicliffe owns Tuna Music LLC, a New York- and London-based management company. Find out more at miketunnicliffe.com.
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