Introducing Fair Trade Music

This is an amazing Japanese hip-hop artist that we discovered on Spotify this week.

There is zero chance we would have even found this artist a few years ago and our musical reach is broader and more enjoyable now than we ever imagined. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that we are part of an exploitative musical value chain. The good news is that it’s possible to fix this without losing all the amazing benefits for music lovers.

This musical ecosystem needs a fundamental improvement in transparency. Each deal is made individually and in the case of some digital distributors, with large penalties for the sharing of any detail. This makes it near impossible for individual music creators to negotiate equitably as they have no market knowledge or collaborative support when dealing with huge corporations. A guaranteed minimum percentage for the songwriter or composer would be another huge step, as would an equitable valuation of the music creators’ contribution. Without them, distributors would have nothing to distribute.

We are communication advisors to the board of Fair Trade Music International, working to make things fairer for music creators. There is more information on the issue at this website including a complete download of the “Study Concerning Fair Compensation for Music Creators in the Digital Age” commissioned by Music Creators North America (MCNA) and the International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM).

We all love how easy streaming makes it to hear new music, but we need to make sure that revenues flow back and invest in the next generation of creators if we want this to be sustainable.

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