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IASPM Canada, May 2013

  1. John Williamson IASPM Canada 25 May 2013
  2.  HISTORY: the relationship between the MU and the recording industry mainly in the form of Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL)  CONTEXT: the role of government, musicians, and the Union itself in the breakdown of previously established relations.
  3. 4 main points of interest:  Copyright Act (1911)- the early recording and copyright industries  The formation of PPL in 1934 and immediate aftermath  The MU and PPL agreement of 1946  The 1988 report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission
  4.  1907-9: first downturn within British recording industry  1909 – Copyright Committee  1911 – Copyright Act  1914 – formation of Performing Right Society (PRS) by music publishers  1920s/ 30s – boom and bust in recording industry; decline in employment for musicians
  5.  Decca and EMI were the two major record companies  The Gramophone Company vs. Carwardine (1933) – established right for manufacturer’s fee for public performance.  PPL established to pursue and collect income in 1934.  Immediately sought deals with publishers and musicians  Ex-gratia payment to performers – 20% of nett income
  6.  Economic pressures on MU – growth in recording industry – seen as threat to ‘conventional’ musical employment (influence of AFM)  PPL to pay Union: 10% (first 2 years) and 12.5% (thereafter) of net income to compensate session players  PPL and BBC agreement on “needletime” in 1947 -
  7.  First PPL payment to MU in 1951 – prompts debate over how to use it.  EC decide to use it “for benefit of all musicians” and not distribute to those who played on them: minority of members were recording; majority would suffer from unrestricted use.  Fear of being seen as “yellow” union  Loans and grants to orchestras, etc. – emphasis on live music  Music PromotionCommittee – cf.AFM’s Music PerformanceTrust Fund  Internal and External impact of PPL funds / MMC
  8.  MMC report on Collective Licensing (1988) – implemented by UK government in 1989.  Scard: “The Union’s controls over needletime, employment quotas and the policy of not allowing records to accompany live performance all disappeared overnight.” (1991)  PPL payments had become substantial: £1.3 million in 1987.  MU also had £5.1m reserve in Special Account
  9.  Post-1989 dispute with PPL over distribution of funds from point of MMC report.  In 1994, Union received £8.5m to distribute to musicians who played on sessions and whose work had been broadcast post 1989.  Formation of PAMRA in 1996 to distribute funds  Destabilizing period: loss of control over membership? (Challenges to leadership from Freddie Staff / session musicians culminating in election/ Scard’s defeat)
  10.  Range of employment and anti-Union legislation beginning in 1980s – secret ballots, limits on strikes and weakening / end of the closed shop  “media unions were seen as the last bastions of Union power” (Scard, 1991)  Government policy: “reinjection of marketisation in to State owned enterprise and the rooting out of restrictive practices” (McIlroy, 2009: 32)  MU had benefited from both in MU/PPL/BBC agreements
  11.  McIlroy on neoliberalism: “marked a return to human nature, individualism and entrepreneurialism, rather than collectivism and dependency culture” (1995: 76)  Individual gain embraced by some union members – encouraged by press and “ambulance chasing” lawyers.
  12.  Since 1946, Union involved in pursuit of performance and performing rights with PPL – outcome to benefit of record companies and individual musicians. . .  These rights were not accepted by all countries and until 1996 were not fully enshrined in UK law.  Rosen: use of collective bodies to protect the “creativeness of individuals” (2012: xiii)
  13.  Impact of 1988 MMC report: “for the benefit of all musicians” no longer an acceptable ethos for government, members or Union leaders.  Emphasis now “less on the collective context for Union activity and more on services that can be provided to individual members” (Ackers et al,1996: 56)  McIlroy: “industrial relations and trade unions were no longer adversarial” (2009:50)