Brian Message: ‘Licensing’s NDA culture has eroded artist and manager trust’

Manager Brian Message has hit out at the lack of transparency surrounding the licensing of creator catalogues to retailers and digital services, saying that it has eroded the trust of artists and managers alike.

Speaking at ERA’s manifesto conference in London yesterday, Message said that with managers today are able to offer real value to the economic chain from creator to fan alongside retailers.

“That economic chain isn’t without it’s challenges however,” he added. “In fact, many of my colleagues would go as far to say that it’s pretty well broken and needs fixing.”

Message flagged up “the lack of transparency and the very real erosion of trust felt by many creators and managers in how the economic value chain now operates” as an issue for ERA and the MMF to tackle.

“Central to this structural failure is the NDA culture that is now ingrained in the licensing of creator catalogues to retailers and digital services,” he added before pointing the finger at major corporations.

“I’m now reasonably sure that whilst it takes two parties to sign an NDA, it’s the corporates owning the major labels that today drive this particular agenda,” he said.

“When the price of getting a license from a licensor is a non attributable fee and those fees add up to tens of millions of pounds, then not only is this an issue for creators, but licensees cannot spend that money converting fans to paid for subscription services.

“When the price of getting a license is a stake in the digital service provider and that stake is attained at less than market rates or at the expense of per play revenue then that is value lost to the economic chain.

“Overhead contributions, technology fees, advances that can’t be recouped, unattributable advances, equity positions at the expense of streaming rates, the dropping of litigation to receive shares that then get sold and other such clever tactics distort the market and ultimately don’t allow it’s development for the benefit of everyone.”

Message applauded BMG, Kobalt “and the other independents who are leading the charge as to how a 21st century rightsholder should operate.”

Message stepped down as chair of the MMF in July last year. Upon announcing the move, he said: “Stepping back from my duties as chair of the MMF allows me time to focus on the economics of music streaming, in particular, how revenue from fans actually gets back to artists and managers. New rules need to be set so that all those within the music value chain can benefit and feel good about the structure.”

Posted on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

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