The ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’ is a new initiative that has brought together over 700 indie labels in an effort to better protect artists’ rights to fair and transparent compensation, as first reported by Billboard.  In a coordinated effort by the Worldwide Independent Network, or WIN, this declaration has gathered signatories from labels such as Because MusicEpitaphSecretly CanadianXL RecordingsSub Pop, and Domino, among many others.

The ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’ is made up of 5 main points:

  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.

The second point is particularly noteworthy, according to Billboard, because it conflicts with the current standard of practice in which artists’ compensation from certain types of deals is often not made clear, such as with equity share.

WIN went even further by producing a ‘Global Independent Manifesto’ that proclaims that independents “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.”  It also speaks to the increasing monopolization of the industry: “we oppose further consolidation in the recorded music, publishing, and radio sectors since this is bad for independent music companies, their artists and fans.”

Billboard reached out to representatives from some of these Indie labels.  Among them was Daren Van Armen, co-founder of the Secretly Group, who summarized the initiative’s purpose best:

The bedrock of trust between artists and labels is artists receiving a fair share of the revenue that is earned from their work, where labels convey financial terms transparently and comprehensibly to artists.  Our signing of the Labels’ Fair Digital Deals Declaration demonstrates our commitment to this ideal and is an invitation to all industry participants to make the same commitment.


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