The Banff World Media Festival, now in its 39th year, brings together creators, producers, media moguls, and industry stakeholders to learn, build relationships, and tackle the biggest issues facing their industries. The festival features high profile speakers from media industries, pre-booked face-to-face meetings, and other networking and development opportunities.
In Mulholland’s keynote, she reflected on her path to speaking publicly on the challenges creators face and her experiences working with politicians and other decision makers. In her trademark style, she also issued a call to action, urging everyone, regardless of their position or affiliation, to take steps to help creators succeed in the digital marketplace. Many of these actions are detailed in an infographic available on Mulholland’s website.
So rare to hear an engaging, well prepared and passionately delivered business talk. Artist advocate and musician Miranda Mulholland delivers right now: Your Content isn’t Free, Fixing the Value Gap. “If you are here, you have influence.” #Banff2018
Below are select passages from Mulholland’s keynote address.
All of us need to stay updated on all the ways artists can be compensated. This includes royalty opportunities, the differences between streaming platforms and how fans consume our art. Use your platform to advocate for change for creators. Create opportunities for others to speak – like this conference! and speak up yourself. This will help everyone, including you. We are all highly effective advocates. No one knows about our experiences as well as we do and sometimes making change is as easy as being very honest about how things really are.
The legal framework within which we are operating and trying to innovate was concocted in the 1990s. This is when I wore scrunchies. Governments haven’t meaningfully adapted their laws since then. I should have kept the scrunchie. The fashion has come back but the policies have left us far behind.
Minister Joly has herself concluded that “The benefits of the digital economy have not been shared equally. Too many creators, journalists, artists have been left behind, and there needs to be a better balance.” Imagine if the governments around the world had realized that in 2003? Where would we all be now?
Much has changed since I first spoke to Minister Joly two years ago. I get the sense now that the Government is finally listening to us but we have to act with urgency. In Europe there is a very important vote going through in a few weeks – their stance on Safe Harbours could set a precedent for the rest of the world. If we, as creators, don’t speak up, pieces of important of legislation will be drafted without our consent.
None of us gave our informed consent about what was going to happen to our work, our businesses, our industries twenty years ago. We do however have the ability to inform policies moving forward.
Entertainment lawyers have always played a crucial role in the success of their artist clients. But during Midem 2018, Miranda Mulholland urged them to take complimentary steps to empower artists and leverage their network to be connectors, helping to introduce, start discussions, and activate their artist clients.
Mulholland was the keynote speaker at a June 6 event hosted by Music Canada and the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers (IAEL) in Cannes, France. The Value Gap theme flowed through both this event and the launch of IAEL’s new book, Finding the Value in the Gap, later the same day.
such an amazing afternoon @midem – thanks for the honour of keynoting today and contributing to a great discussion on grassroots advocacy and the value gap. thanks and CONGRATS to the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers for your groundbreaking new publication! pic.twitter.com/ijemZ4mib2
Two representatives from IAEL, including President Jeff Liebenson and Anne-Marie Pecoraro, as well as Lodovico Benvenuti, Director of IFPI’s European Office, joined Mulholland for a panel discussion following her keynote.
In addition to discussing the IAEL’s brand new publication Finding the Value in the Gap, the international experts leading the charge to address the Value Gap in multiple territories discussed how artists have been instrumental in their campaigns, including a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The letter was originally signed by more than 1,000 musicians and urges the Commission to address misapplied safe harbour provisions at the heart of the Value Gap to secure a sustainable and thriving music sector for Europe. Similarly, in Canada, more than 3,650 Canadian artists and creators have now signed the Focus On Creators letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly calling on the government to put creators at the heart of future policy.
Guests at the Midem event included influential Canadian and international delegates, as well as members of the legal community, media outlets and European leaders in addressing the Value Gap.
You can watch the full keynote and panel discussion below.
Last week, musician, label owner and prominent creators’ rights advocate Miranda Mulholland was in Washington, DC, for a series of meetings and engagements focused on what can be achieved in a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to ensure creators in Canada, Mexico, and the United States have a fair chance at success and receive proper payment for their work.
Miranda Mulholland and Stephen Exell, Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at ITIF
“From all the conversations I had in Washington, what really struck me was just how necessary the artists’ voices are on this issue. Whether Canadian, Mexican or American artists, we share the same need for strong and consistent IP protections. People in Washington are listening. We need to speak up now more than ever,” said Mulholland following the trip.
This was the second occasion that Mulholland, who is becoming increasingly well-know internationally for her advocacy work, has spoken to an American audience. In January of 2018, she participated in the inaugural Artists Rights Summit in Athens, Georgia.
On April 11, Mulholland delivered a speech at an event jointly organized by ACTION for Trade and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). More than 20 government and industry leaders attended the event which also featured a speech from Stephen Exell, Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at ITIF. Both speakers underlined the importance of strong IP protections and enforcement in NAFTA.
A post-event report by ACTION for Trade noted that “Mulholland spoke about how governments need to adapt policies to fit today’s landscape and protect creators’ work,” in particular that they must consider the “99 percent” of creators who aren’t mainstream superstars.
The day before the ACTION for Trade event, Mulholland visited Capitol Hill where she met with officials and stakeholders to discuss the need for action.
really honoured to be on capitol hill representing fellow creators on NAFTA, copyright and best practices. as ever – if you have any ideas or concerns please be in touch.
For more information on Mulholland’s advocacy work, visit the advocacy section of her website. You can also watch the full video of her outstanding 2017 speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa titled “Redefining Success in a Digital Marketplace” below.
Mulholland’s keynote topic was “Redefining Success in a Digital Marketplace.” Her speech highlighted the challenges for artists working in today’s digital age and proposed solutions to help create a more balanced music ecosystem in which creators can earn a living.
Mulholland’s speech was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from different cultural industries, who discussed how the digital marketplace has affected their industries and their individual careers. The panel, which was moderated by Vassy Kapelos, Global National’s Ottawa Bureau Chief and host of The West Block, included:
Mulholland began by observing “an extremely important anniversary in the lives of all creators” – the date the Copyright Modernization Act came into force, just over 5 years ago. Although Mulholland referred to the Act as a “landmark”, she acknowledged that it wasn’t perfect and “probably created as many problems for creators as it solved.” Fortunately, the legislation included a specific provision that mandates a review of the Act, 5 years to the day that it came into force. Unfortunately, that date passed two weeks ago, and creators are still waiting for the review to begin.
“I find this disappointing,” said Mulholland. She then spoke about her path to advocacy, referencing two conversations with Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who told her “artists need to speak up” in the government’s “Canadian Content in a Digital World” consultations. Those conversations led directly to the founding of Focus On Creators, a coalition of more than 3,500 Canadian creators asking the government to put creators at the heart of future policy. Speaking of her previous speech at the Economic Club, Mulholland thanked MP Julie Dabrusin for raising some of the issues her keynote addressed in a meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. After noting that she is aware of the government’s increased funding for grants and export, Mulholland reiterated her call for a market that properly values their work: “the main message of creators, and what we’re trying to say, is that we want a functioning marketplace right here at home. We are here, and we’re speaking up. We’d love to be heard.”
After a brief recap of her artistic bona fides – violin training since age 4; studying Opera Performance at Western and McGill Universities; founding a record label and festival; performing as a member of Harrow Fair, Great Lake Swimmers, and performing on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Cowboy Junkies, Donovan Woods and Rose Cousins, as well as film & television work including CBC’s Republic of Doyle and the film Maudie; a member of the Soulpepper Theatre Company and the Board of Governors of Massey/Roy Thomson Hall – Mulholland acknowledged that she has a serious problem: “My problem is that because of this Broken Promise of a Golden Age, I’m barely able to make a living.”
Mulholland explained that when sharing her concerns with policymakers, the response that she is often given “is that creators are asking for the clock to be turned back… but that is not what we want. However, we do need to look back at the policies and promises that were made in the late 90s, and recognize that times have changed. My MySpace page doesn’t work anymore. If anything, we’d like to turn the clock forward and rethink some of these ideas and assumptions that have turned out to be false and predictions that have sadly not come to pass.”
After outlining some of the challenges that today’s artists face, including financial hardship and an increasing number of middlemen involved in distributing her music and collecting revenues, Mulholland pivoted from the solution often offered to creators expressing their concerns (“adapt”) to a key theme of her speech: Accountability.
“Let’s look at the current situation and who is accountable for the devaluation to which we are forced to adapt,” said Mulholland. “Accountability means acknowledging value and compensating for it.”
Mulholland called for accountability from digital services like YouTube, and showed why the often-proposed solution of live touring is not a panacea, or even feasible for many artists. Turning to solutions, Mulholland referred a pamphlet distributed with advocacy infographics, which are available on her website. Explaining that we all have a role to play in improving the music ecosystem, Mulholland identified steps that artists, consumers, industry members, and government can take to help ameliorate the current situation.
Mulholland urged the government to end tech company safe harbours: “The European Commission has now acknowledged that the market isn’t functioning properly, and they have identified and accepted the problem as the unintended Value Gap, and agreed that legal clarification is needed. Can we follow suit?”
She also called on the government to end other industry cross-subsidies, such as the Radio Royalty Exemption, “an industry cross-subsidy given to every commercial radio station in Canada, exempting them from paying more than $100 in royalties to artists and record labels on their first $1.25 million in advertising revenue,” said Mulholland. “The Exemption was introduced as a political compromise in the 1997 amendments to the Copyright Act, but it is now outdated and unjustified – if it ever was justified. It is really not right that artists and labels continue to subsidize these large media companies. I am subsidizing Bell.”
Mulholland then highlighted that due to the definition of sound recordings in the Copyright Act, recorded music is actually not considered a ‘sound recording’ (and thus not entitled to royalties) when it is included in a TV or film soundtrack. “This affects me greatly,” said Mulholland, “because for example, even though I played on almost every episode of CBC’s Republic of Doyle, which is now syndicated worldwide, I only received the one-time union rate I got per session, which was around $280, while the composer collects residuals every time that show airs. 44 countries around the world – the UK, France and Australia among them – afford performers and record labels the right to receive public performance royalties when their sound recordings are used as a part of a soundtrack in TV and film.”
Mulholland closed by stating “a culture of permission-less innovation” is what led to the current situation. With that, she referenced another anniversary – the two hundredth anniversary of Frankenstein. “Mary Shelley wrote this classic after witnessing the disastrous consequences of her industrial revolution,” said Mulholland. “The moral of her story is that monsters are created when the only question being asked is ‘Can I?’
We know what’s it has done to the livelihood of creators – it’s produced the Value Gap, and that is our monster.”
Thanks for coming everyone! Now, let’s get to work. Government was required to appoint or designate a committee two weeks ago. This did not happen. Creators are in crisis. That was @miramulholland’s message. Let’s act with urgency. https://t.co/KkTJ3pURDo
From where Team GDW sits, this is a huge point – we all benefit from a vibrant, diverse, talented creative community that's not determined solely by their ability to make huge amounts of money and create the biggest media splash. https://t.co/CK6BNseSK2
“Music unites us, bridges linguistic, cultural and income divides. Music heals. It connects. It provides a soundtrack to our greatest struggles and our highest triumphs.
Since the arrival of the digital age, music is more readily created, released and shared. It is available at our fingertips and it’s reaching more people than ever before.
With music’s intrinsic value in our lives and this new accessibility, one would expect that the people who create this unifying force would be thriving. There is a widely held perception that the advent of the digital revolution has enhanced how music is created, money is made and creators’ lives are lived. There is a perception of a level playing field. But it’s time for a reality check.
Join Artist and Entrepreneur, Miranda Mulholland as she talks about the creative process, reveals actual numbers, discusses how creators are faring in this new landscape and suggests a way forward.”
Following Mulholland’s speech, a panel of creators and representatives from various cultural industries will discuss how the digital marketplace has affected their industry and their own careers. The panel will include:
Alan Frew – Songwriter, Public Speaker & Author
Ari Posner – Film & Television Composer
Roanie Levy – President & CEO, Access Copyright
This will be the second time Mulholland addresses the Economic Club, following her speech in Toronto in May 2017. Her powerful and honest speech resonated with the crowd, earning her a standing ovation and social media praise by many of the artists in the room. That speech was covered by the Globe and Mail’s Kate Taylor, in an insightful column titled “What happens when we starve our artists.”
In August of 2017, Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister, Navdeep Bains, in conjunction with Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of consultations on reforming the Copyright Board of Canada. According to the government’s release, the goal of Copyright Board reform is to “enable creators to get paid properly and on time.”
The first letter was submitted on behalf of “Canadian musicians, independent label owners and creative entrepreneurs – at all stages of their careers” 100 of whom added their names. The letter states “While only part of our income comes from royalties collected by collective societies, the rates set by the Board directly impact the value of our music, and our ability to earn a living from it.” The letter specifically supports three options outlined in the consultation’s Discussion Paper and points out that while the role of the Board has evolved, “at the end of the day, the Board is valuing our work, and setting rates that affect our livelihoods.”
The second letter was submitted to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and in addition to the list of supporting names, is signed directly by Mulholland, Jim Cuddy, Alan Doyle and Joel Plaskett. It stresses the need for real and meaningful change at the Board, calling for tariffs to be set faster and more in line with market values, and also thanks the government for embarking on the long overdue reform process.
Miranda Mulholland does it all. From running a record label and a music festival, to singing and playing fiddle in multiple acts, and even performing as a member of Toronto’s Soul Pepper Theatre Company, Miranda is the epitome of a multi-talented artist. On top of her artistic achievements, Miranda has emerged as a trailblazer in the global artists’ rights movement.
In recognition of her outstanding advocacy efforts to improve the livelihoods of music creators, Miranda Mulholland was presented with the inaugural Music Canada Artist Advocate Award at Playback 2017.
Watch Music Canada’s President and CEO, Graham Henderson, present Miranda Mulholland with the inaugural Music Canada Artist Advocate Award below.
Below is selection of photos of Miranda receiving the award.
Music Canada’s annual industry dialogue and celebration, Playback, took place on October 17. At the event, Graham Henderson officially launched our latest research report, The Value Gap: Its Origins, Impacts and a Made-In-Canada Approach. Following the launch of the report, Canadian recording artists Damhnait Doyle and Miranda Mulholland joined moderator Andrew Cash, a musician himself, for an honest discussion about their strategies for survival working as musicians in 2017.
Damhnait Doyle is an accomplished musician, songwriter, SOCAN Award winner, as well as a columnist and author. She has released multiple albums, both of solo material and as part of the group Shaye.
Andrew Cash is a JUNO and SOCAN Award winning musician and composer with over a dozen albums to his credit. He is also a former Member of Parliament and is co-founder of the Urban Worker Project.
Watch the full video below:
“Musicians, technically and for a very long time, have been undervalued.”
“What I did today – I sang on a television show – which I will only get paid for once, the same with your (Miranda’s) situation with Republic of Doyle…I’m getting paid a ridiculously small amount of money, but I’m doing it because – where else am I going to make money?”
“It costs me an incredible amount of money to go out on the road, and to earn money, which is now kind of the only allotted place where artists earn money. Well, you’re not making money off the radio, you’re not making money off publishing, you’re not making money off records. So the only place you’re going to make money is playing live.”
“We’re really, really fortunate in this country to have things like FACTOR and to have things like Slaight Music who support our artists. In that one sense we are in a very rarified earth up here in Canada, that we do have an industry that supports us. It supports us in the creation of the art itself, but there, it falls off…It would be an artist’s dream to not have to apply to FACTOR. That would be a great milestone.”
“The fact that the government has not changed or amended this legislation is laughable, I mean, someone made a mistake and no one’s willing to clean up the mess. It’s a mistake.”
“There’s no bylaws and standards regulating a rock-n-roll band. And by and large, that’s been probably a problem.”
“One of the reasons we’re all here is that we love music, and we want music to happen. And it can’t happen unless artists can make a decent living and be healthy and happy in their lives.”
“I find my days are taken up with so much administration…I’m updating my Facebook and I’m doing my Spotify work. I’m selling their product basically, through my music, and trying to get people to subscribe to Spotify so that I can get paid .004 extra cents per stream.”
“Granting is great, and it’s amazing that we have those capabilities in Canada, but what we want is a sustainable working marketplace where we are creating art and we are being remunerated for it properly. And that is not happening for a variety of reasons.”
“Policy must change. The government needs to make some pretty swift cuts to end some of these subsidies, and that’s a big deal. And I love that people are actually having this conversation now and asking about what our lives look like, that it isn’t flashy parties, you know, and being more honest on Instagram and Facebook about what touring actually looks like because it doesn’t look the way that I think most people picture it.”
“If you look at France – they have very strong opinions about Spotify and about a lot of the streaming services, and they’ve taken some really harsh stances, and I feel as though our government is still in a lot of conversations, and they’re being very polite with a lot of these giant tech companies, where there actually could be some pretty significant…maybe further than conversations, but actually drawing a line in the sand. That would be appreciated by us and that would definitely change our livelihoods.”
On May 24, Miranda Mulholland became the first musician to deliver a keynote address to the Economic Club of Canada. Her speech, titled ‘Redefining Success in a Digital Marketplace,’ drew on her years of experience as a musician, label owner and entrepreneur to shed light on the reality artists face in the digital age. In her speech, she also identified actions that government, the music industry and music fans can take to help bring balance to the world in which creators live.
The room had a large contingent of artists, including Scott Helman, Alx Veliz, Royal Wood, Tona Tencreddi, Bandana Singh, Ammoye, Amanda Martinez, Zeno Calini, Kanwar Anit Singh Saini, QuiQue Escamilla, Eliana Cuevas, Sarah Thawer, Justin Rutledge, Brenley MacEachern, Lisa MacIsaac, Bradley Thachuk, Monica Pearce, Damhnait Doyle, Suzie Ungerleider, Emma Barnett, Andrew Penner, Jennifer Bryan, Sally Shaar and Jordan Circosta.
There were also representatives from the municipal, provincial and federal governments, as well as music industry groups MusiCounts, Re:Sound, The Canadian Federation of Musicians, CIMA, Music Ontario, The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), SOCAN, The Canadian Country Music Association, The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall, and record labels Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music.
Miranda was introduced by Toronto City Councillor Josh Colle, who chairs the Toronto Music Advisory Council on which Miranda also serves. Colle commented that musicians are often entrepreneurs, and in many cases, small businesses and that nobody is an embodiment of that more than Miranda Mulholland. He commented that artists should be supported by the City in the same way as other small businesses.
“As entrepreneurs and small businesses, I think it’s incumbent on all of us to want to see that they’re successful,” said Colle. “The same way we might put money or resources or time into helping other sectors and other small businesses, we should think of that the same way as our musicians and artists, who live in a city that’s increasingly expensive and difficult to find a place to live.”
The overarching theme of Miranda’s speech was accountability, and she pointed to a number of ways that digital music services eschew accountability to the music creators who make all of the content off which they profit.
“Picture each shiny new streaming platform as a shop window,” said Miranda. “Our content – at fire sale prices – fills their shop window, giving them credibility while creators of this content are asked to do the advertising. They give us – the creators – lists of ‘Best Practices’ to get more of our hard won fans to use their services. If we are not getting on playlists then it is our fault for not engaging with our fans enough.”
She was particularly critical of YouTube’s claims that it is merely a passive service, and as such, should be free from liability for the content that appears on the site.
“YouTube says – ‘it isn’t our fault – we are just the shop window. We didn’t put the items in the window, so we are not accountable for them. We are a passive intermediary. We are not liable for this massive copyright infringement.’ But – once again – wait. A top brass at Google just bragged that ‘80% of all watch time is recommended by YouTube.’ He explained that ‘Everybody thinks that all the music that’s being listened to and watched is by search.’ But it isn’t, and in his words, ‘that’s a really important and powerful thing.’ This means that YouTube actively directs consumers. This doesn’t seem all that passive to me. Zero accountability.”
Miranda went on describe the ways in which we can correct the situation faced by artists, saying “We all have a role to play as artists, as consumers, as industry and as government.”
For artists, Miranda encouraged them to be honest about their lifestyle, protect their intellectual property, support robust copyright laws and to pay back into the music ecosystem by championing young talent.
She encouraged music fans to be tastemakers, to create playlists of their favourite music, and to write reviews and rate albums and songs, actions which help shift algorithms in favour of artists. She also encouraged fans to buy albums on their release days, another action which can help to drive albums to front pages of music services. Buying band merchandise was mentioned as a great way to support artists. She also encouraged music fans to subscribe to a streaming service, as the subscription model delivers a much better return to artists than ad-supported streaming.
As for government, Miranda pointed to the elimination of “safe harbour” laws, which provide tech companies with immunity from copyright infringement liability. In Canada, she pointed to eliminating industry cross-subsidies that shift wealth away from music creators, and used the radio royalty exemption as an example, an exemption in place since 1997 that excuses radio stations from paying more than $100 in royalties to artists and record labels on their first $1.25 million in advertising revenue.
Miranda’s heartfelt speech had a visible impact on guests, who gave her an extended standing ovation.
On Wednesday, May 24, singer, songwriter, violinist, label owner and music festival organizer Miranda Mulholland will address the Economic Club of Canada on the reality for music entrepreneurs in the digital age.
Below is the event description:
Music unites us, bridges linguistic, cultural and income divides. Music heals. It connects. It provides a soundtrack to our greatest struggles and our highest triumphs.
Since the arrival of the digital age, music is more readily created, released and shared. It is available at our fingertips and it’s reaching more people than ever before.
With music’s intrinsic value in our lives and this new accessibility, one would expect that the people who create this unifying force would be thriving.
There is a widely held perception that the advent of the digital revolution has enhanced how music is created, money is made and creators’ lives are lived. There is a perception of a level playing field.
But it’s time for a reality check.
Join Artist and Entrepreneur, Miranda Mulholland as she talks about the creative process, reveals actual numbers, discusses how creators are faring in this new landscape and suggests a way forward.
The event runs from 11:30am – 1:30pm at the Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre (525 Bay Street). Lunch will be served. Tickets are available for purchase on the Economic Club of Canada’s website.
Miranda’s speech will be followed by a question and answer discussion with Kate Taylor, author, film critic and arts columnist at The Globe and Mail.