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John Williamson
IASPM Canada
25 May 2013
 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.
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
 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
 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
 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 -
 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
 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
 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)
 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
 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.
 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)
 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)

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IASPM Canada, 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)