[BMG Rights Management issued one of the most honest statements from any publisher about the failed process that led up to the major labels’ power move for songwriter fairness. The statement is also a stark example of just how badly the publishers were failed by their trade association and how sad it is to see all these groups who had nothing to do with the process compromise and embarrass themselves on the world stage by pushing out revisionist history, fooling no one. BMG has the courage and honesty to come forward and tell the truth–in the words of WIllie Stark, “Lift your eyes and look on the God’s blessed and unflyblown truth: You are a hick and ain’t nobody never helped a hick but a hick himself. It’s up to you…”. As someone who was there, I would pick a bone–once the labels were given a chance to fix the problem–which they never were told they had to do by the publishers right up to the time the Copyright Royalty Judges rejected the first settlement–the labels bent over backwards to do what they could to fix the problem, which was actually very complex. Tragically, the origin of this problem always comes back to the same place. I can understand commercial opposition, but I cannot fathom human indifference.]
“The entire songwriter community owes a huge debt of thanks to those who fought for this increase in the face of the opposition of major record companies and indifference of music publishers.
“Thanks to them, songwriters will get an effective 32% rate increase on the current 9.1 cents a track mechanical rate for physical products and downloads in the US.
“Without their belief and commitment, the RIAA (representing record companies) and the NMPA (representing music publishers) would not have been forced back to the negotiating table.
“Music companies have a duty to stand up for artists and songwriters. That is why BMG has put fairness at the heart of our agenda ever since we started business in 2008.
“We regret on this occasion that we did not speak out earlier and more robustly against an industry consensus that turned a blind eye to what has been a 15-year pay freeze for songwriters.
“More broadly, this case again highlighted the dismissive approach of record companies toward songwriters who just a month ago entered a motion designed to exclude the vast majority of songwriters from benefiting from any rate increase. [Which truly was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and was inexplicably bad advice.]
“Thankfully, they have backed down. They could show further humility by following BMG’s example in abandoning unfair and anachronistic controlled composition deductions which are solely designed to depress songwriter earnings.
“This episode should be a wake-up call for all those in the industry who fail to match fine words about the value of music with a concern for the people who actually create it.” [And that statement really sums up the problem with the entire process including all the groups who failed to step up–even when they were asked–and the unqualified failure of leadership for the publishers. Hopefully this will not happen again.]