UK Music Artists Denounce Prosecuting File-Sharers

Don’t want to be part of a “protectionist effort,” compare to trying to “put toothpaste back in the tube.”

The inaugural meeting of the new UK-based Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC) in London resulted in a vote among its members to oppose any legislation that would criminalize file-sharing by music fans.

“For the first time, artists have a collective voice to campaign for effective laws and regulations, and for transparent and equitable business practices,” said the group prior to meeting. “The FAC will fight to ensure that interests of artists and fans — without whom the music industry would not exist — are not compromised by under the table deals between multi-national corporations.”

The FAC consists of 140 of UK artists, including: Billy Bragg, Boilerhouse Boys, Chrissie Hynde, Craig David, David Gilmour, Gang of Four, Iron Maiden, Jazzie B, Jools Holland, Kaiser Chiefs, Kate Nash, Klaxons, Radiohead, Richard Ashcroft, Robbie Williams, Sia Furler, Soul II Soul, Stephen Duffy, The Cribs, The Verve, Travis, Wet Wet Wet, and White Lies.

Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, David Gray, Fran Healy from Travis, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, and Mick Jones from The Clash also expressed their support.

In an interview with The Independent, singer Billy Bragg said that going after illegal file-sharers was not the solution and that most of the FAC members had voted against supporting any legislative proposals to do so.

“What I said at the meeting was that the record industry in Britain is still going down the road of criminalizing our audience for downloading illegal MP3s,” Bragg said.

“If we follow the music industry down that road, we will be doing nothing more than being part of a protectionist effort. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.”

“Artists should own their own rights and they should decide when their music should be used for free, or when they should have payment.”

The artists wanted to tell Lord Carter “that we want to side with the audience, the consumer”.

One of FAC’s directors, Dave Rowntree of Blur, said in a statement earlier that the digital revolution offered a “fantastic opportunity” for musicians and fans alike.

He writes:

As this revolution gathers pace Featured Artists must seize the initiative. We are looking to forge a new deal, built on fairness, with our fans, the music industry and governments.

To achieve this, we must own our future, take real control of our rights and genuinely work together. Acting alone, artists’ voices will not be heard. Acting together, we can be a powerful force. Our rights are our power. By making ourselves heard and arguing for what’s fair, we can help reshape the industry for the future so that it serves the interests of those who want to make new music as well as those who want to hear new music.” “The digital revolution has swept away the old music business of the 1960s, and changed forever the relationship between artists and fans. For companies who made their living sitting between the two, these are increasingly hard times, but for music makers and music fans this should be a fantastic opportunity.

YouTube’s row with the PRS is the most recent example of just how fast the music industry is changing. There has never been a greater need for the collective voice of featured artists, whose music generates 95% of revenue in the industry, to be properly heard.

Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien stressed that now was a critical time for artists and consumers to get involved as copyright holders and the entertainment industry try to shape the digital age.

“A lot of the rights and revenue streams are being carved up, and we need a voice… I think all the major players want to hear what we have to say.”

It’s high time artists had a say instead of record industry execs..

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