Leaders of the independent music community gathered in MIDEM this week to hammer-out the first global manifesto, a 10-point blueprint which is hoped could pave the path to a better future for the indie sector.
The overarching theme of the manifesto, explains the UK’s Association of Independent Music CEO and WIN Chairperson Alison Wenham, is that “we want to be treated fairly. It’s about equitable and fair treatment for artists.”
The manifesto draws up statements around the role of collecting societies, new business models, and on the creation of a database, which the indies will set a deadline on and take into their own hands if necessary. Also, the document drills into market access and calls for support from governments in the way the film industries are recognized. And there’s debate around piracy and copyright, words which Wenham explains, “We want to eliminate from our language.”
Wenham adds, “We need an international voice for advocacy. We have WIN (the Worldwide Independent Network). But WIN needs to step up,” she admits. “We have some ideas for that.”
The indies’ “10 commandments” was formed during a three-hour summit Monday in Cannes, which gathered some eighty independent music executives and was chaired by Jonas Sjostrom, chairman of Sweden’s SOM. Speakers confirmed for event included Beggars Group Chairman Martin Mills, Impala Executive Chair Helen Smith and A2IM President Rich Bengloff.
“We were in almost unanimous agreement across the room,” comments Mark Chung, chairman of Germany’s independent music company’s trade association VUT.
Some of those participants gathered today to present those 10 points. Wenham dispelled a myth that the indies hated the majors. Paraphrasing PIAS co-founder Michel Lambot, she said, “We don’t dislike the majors. We’d just like more of them.” Admitting the comment was counter-intuitive, she remarked, “Plurality, we think, is a source of creativity.”
The indies will commune again for a summit in New York this June, when it is anticipated the manifesto would be ratified.
“So many of the big issues in our community — issues of piracy and copyright – have been hijacked,” says Wenham. “We need to get back to basics”.