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BASCA: Dawn of the Dead

The British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors (BASCA) have this week announced a new campaign called ‘The Day The Music Died’. Which all sounds very cheerful but is actually designed to highlight concerns in the ‘songwriter community’ (is there such a thing? It would be an incredibly broad church if so) about the music business’s transition from digital and in particular from downloads to streams.

Announcing its new initiative, a BASCA statement said: “It should be noted that a significant number of mainstream artists enjoying chart and commercial success do not write their own material and perform songs composed by professional songwriters. Songwriters and composers, whose primary income has traditionally derived from physical sales, are now finding their livelihoods under dire threat. Sales from physical formats have plummeted by over 50% in under a decade as music consumers have moved online. However, during this mass migration the ultimate creator of the music, the songwriter, has been forgotten”.

Alongside lobbying Government for changes in legislation and seeking to change general public attitudes towards creators, the campaign will call on Google to take more action to stop sites distributing and sharing unlicensed content appearing in search engines and will push for more transparency from publishers, labels and service providers over how digital deals are done- an especially pertinent point given the long standing and significant stakes that several major labels reportedly have in Spotify for example.

BASCA are set to push for a 50/50 split of gross royalty income, pament of advertising income to creators and the removal of auto predictive fill in of illegal content on search engines.

BASCA boss Vick Bain said: “Without songwriters and composers there is no music industry and it is, therefore, scarcely believable that writers are almost an afterthought when it comes to getting paid for their work from digital sources. It is not an exaggeration to say that unless things change and change soon the incredible legacy and future health of British songwriting is at real and immediate risk. They need better protection and better remuneration and action needs to happen swiftly”.

Find out more about BASCA and ‘The Day that Music Diedhere.

In related news, licensing agency BMI has entered a court battle with Internet radio service Pandora in a royalties’ dispute over what is paid to BMI’s songwriters and publishers. A trial will start in New York this week. As reported in the New York Times, Pandora currently pays BMI 1.75 per cent of its revenue, but wants to reduce that to 1.7 per cent to match that paid by most radio stations.

BMI wants the rate raised to 2.5 per cent, claiming Pandora is a more interactive form of media.

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