In October 2018, Canadian musician and artist advocate Miranda Mulholland participated in the the World Trade Organization Public Forum 2018 in Geneva as part of a panel discussion on the future of innovation and creativity.
In her remarks, Mulholland provided a stark picture of the current realities of artist remuneration in this increasingly digitized musical landscape. She outlined the differences in opportunities for artists in the 1980’s and 1990’s, whose earnings sustained their livelihood and enabled them to enter the middle class – in a way that artists today are simply not able to.
“Royalty checks that once paid for a down-payment on a home for those lucky enough to be working before the digital disruption, only amount to enough to buy a cup of coffee today.”
Indeed, rapid technological and digital advancements has meant that music has become instantly accessible, in a variety of mediums and services. Yet, the remuneration of creators and musicians for the use and commercialization of this work has not matched the pace of these developments.
Mulholland connected this reality to the phenomenon of the Value Gap: the significant disparity between the value of creative content that is accessed by consumers, and the revenues that are returned to its creators.
She ended her remarks by reflecting on the positive regulatory and legislative steps that have been occurring at the federal level worldwide. Canada’s ongoing statutory review of the Copyright Act, as well the EU’s review of the Copyright Directive have both created opportunities for meaningful reforms that better protect creators.
Last week, TVO’s The Agendawith Steve Paikin focused an episode on “Copyright for the Digital Age,” which featured impactful remarks on the importance of fair copyright for creators by Canadian musician, label owner and music festival founder Miranda Mulholland. Joining Mulholland on the panel discussion were composer Donald Quan and activist and author Cory Doctorow.
“Recent changes to copyright rules in Europe are designed to better compensate artists whose work fuels the revenue earned by digital platforms such as YouTube,” said host Steve Paikin at the outset of the episode. “But some have expressed concern that the new regulations will stifle innovation and harm free speech. As Canada updates its own copyright regulations, should these new rules serve as a roadmap?”
Mulholland, who has been increasingly sought-after as an artist advocate, brought a clear and personal message to the discussion.
On the importance of strong copyright laws for artists: Paikin: “Miranda, how about for you – how much does copyright matter to your bottom line?
Mulholland: “Well it matters to me, because it matters to my community. I think we live in an ecosystem, so this is very, very important. For me, I’ve been a side-person, I was in Great Lake Swimmers for 7 years, I was in Bowfire … most of my income comes from performing. This is a problem though, because it means if I ever wanted to take a break from the road – say, have a child – and have some kind of time where I wasn’t just paid for when I was exactly on the stage, then loose copyright laws don’t allow me to have any kind of income coming back.”
On the problem of the current definition of a “sound recording” in the Copyright Act: Paikin: “You do scoring work – do you get royalties for that?”
Mulholland: “Well, actually, that’s a very interesting one, because as of right now, I do a lot of work with composers, so I play for film and television. But in Canada, unlike 44 other countries around the world, the performer is not paid for soundtracks. So I am not actually paid when anything I’ve played on is (aired) around the world. I do get paid for anything I compose on.”
On the need for a functional marketplace for creators’ work: Paikin: “It’s not enough obviously to sell tickets to a concert, or to sell records … Are you in the t-shirt business now?”
Mulholland: “Well, no, I’m not… I do feel as though we are close to finding some sort of a market. What we want is a marketplace. And YouTube is really our biggest disrupter in the marketplace, because while Spotify and Apple Music are trying really hard to pay creators and try come up with some sort of market share version of what this is going to be, or how it’s going to be, (YouTube) is giving it away for free. … So of course I’ve portfolio’d my income though, because I absolutely have to. I’m an entrepreneur, but I also play for hire, so I play with Jim Cuddy, I work for SoulPepper Theatre – I have so many hats that I have to wear, but I am so far not in the t-shirt business.”
After Paikin cited a quote opposing copyright protection measures from German MEP Julia Reda, whom Paikin neglected to mention is the sole member of the European Parliament from the Pirate Party, Mulholland expertly brought the conversation back to focus on the need for regulations that supports creators.
“I think that one of the biggest problems is that those people who are responsible for those copyright filters don’t want to pay people to do that, so they’re trying to implement this software that maybe can’t catch it all. But I really think that this type of fear-mongering isn’t helpful,” said Mulholland. “We have history to show us, since the beginning – we have the printing press, the invention of compass – history shows us that there are disruptions that happen, and then there is a time that shifts, and people that come in and try and monetize these periods of disruption, and then regulation needs to set in. And fear-mongering doesn’t help… the most important thing is that people in the EU, people in Canada, and in the US are actually listening now to creators. And that is the most important thing that we’re seeing – the sea-change that’s different. … We’re seeing a real change for the better, and finding technical reasons to oppose this, I think is just ludicrous.”
On Tuesday, October 16, Music Canada hosted Playback 2018, our annual industry dialogue and celebration. The event began with an annual review from Music Canada Executive Vice President Amy Terrill, followed by a keynote address from professor and author Debora Spar, and a subsequent panel discussion on how to help music creators living in the Value Gap.
The final program of the afternoon was a ‘fireside’ chat with Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Moderated by brilliant artist advocate and musician Miranda Mulholland, the conversation centered on Sherman’s long career as an industry titan and passionate supporter of the rights of music creators.
The discussion began with a deep-dive into the recently passed Music Modernization Act (MMA) in the US, and an outline of Sherman’s role in the evolution of this historic legislation. The MMA contains several important new components, but some of the key achievements include:
The creation of a cohesive ‘blanket’ mechanical license: involves the establishment of a blanket license for streaming services to companies, managed by a new collecting society that will receive these payments and distribute them to the creators.
Pre-1972 Recordings: royalty protections are now ensured for pre-1972 performances.
New ability for producers (and other ‘adjunct’ creators like sound engineers and mixers) to be paid directly from their share of the artist’s royalties.
In addition to outlining the key policy components of the MMA, Sherman also touched on how rewarding it was to see the strong support and recognition of the value of this legislation that existed on both sides of the aisle. As he described, the consensus that formed between different aspects of the industry became a powerful force that ultimately helped present a united coalition.
To watch more of the conversation, check out the video below.
Following the conversation, Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson presented Sherman with a framed Leonard Cohen poster, commemorating Cohen’s 2017 Polaris Prize Short List nomination. Sherman is a Leonard Cohen fan and shared a recollection of a special performance of his song ‘Hallelujah’ by k.d. lang at Cohen’s Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
On Thursday, Canadian musician, label owner and music festival founder Miranda Mulholland will participate in the World Trade Organization Public Forum 2018, as part of a panel discussion on the future of innovation and creativity. The Public Forum includes more than 100 sessions organized by NGOs, governments, academics, other international organizations, and the WTO secretariat. This year’s theme is “Trade 2030”, as the Public Forum examines how the increasing pace of technology changes will affect sustainable trade, technology-enabled trade, and a more inclusive trading system in the year 2030.
“Our most valuable resources is human ingenuity,” states the panel description. “Through our creativity and innovation, we can solve the most pressing problems facing our generation and future generations. Join us for an in-depth discussion of medicines, artificial intelligence, and creative expression – taking a look at new products and services that will meet the goals of Trade in 2030 and beyond.”
“Not only do we cherish the creators and innovators in our world, but we must also support them and incentivize their continuity and success,” continues the description. “Policy leaders around the world play an important role in the ecosystems of innovation and creativity. This session will look at the global investment environment, cross-border collaborations and the legal and regulatory environments that will propel us toward a better future for humanity.”
Music Canada urges any of our international colleagues attending the WTO Public Forum to attend this important panel, which will provide an insightful look ahead at what cultural expression and the creative industries may look like in 2030. For those unable to attend in person, the World Trade Organization will be posting audio from the panels on their website following the Forum.
Last Thursday, musician, label owner and music festival founder Miranda Mulholland appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s study of remuneration models for artists and creative industries, where she shared her personal experience as an artist living in the Value Gap.
She began by making Committee members aware that although they may not recognize her, they had most certainly heard her play. “Over the last 19 years, I have played or sung on hundreds of recorded songs on over 50 records including many JUNO Award nominated or winning albums,” she said. “I have done film and television work – you can hear my fiddle playing on every episode of Republic of Doyle and in the film Maudie and on the Good Things Grow in Ontario jingle.”
Mulholland then stated that creators are storytellers and that the story she would tell them today had a beginning, a middle and that she hoped that she and the Committee members would write the end together.
.@miramulholland’s story beings in university. “I went to Carden Street Music in Guelph and bought a Natalie MacMaster CD for 15.99 and learned every tune on that record. From there I went on to a career in music based on fiddle playing…And then EVERYTHING changed.”
Mulholland then referenced previous testimonies that the Committee has heard, from artists like Andrew Morrison of the JUNO-nominated group The Jerry Cans, and Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson, who both spoke of the disappearance of middle class artists.
Mulholland underscored this point, stating: “The musician middle class is gone – and even the ladder to get there is gone.”
In the middle of her dynamic and authentic presentation, Mulholland proposed four immediately actionable solutions that Committee members could recommend to help improve the framework, which are captured in the video embedded below.
Approaching the end of her story, Mulholland expressed hope that the Committee would help write the ending. Referencing the recent actions that lawmakers in Europe and the United States have taken to help close the Value Gap, Mulholland expressed hope that the Heritage and Industry Committees can work with artists like herself to fix the broken framework and update the laws to reflect artists’ day to day lives.
Her testimony was encapsulated by one of her closing remarks: “Artists have adapted and we need our laws to do the same.”
Mulholland’s dynamic and authentic presentation seemed to truly engage members of the Committee. Following her testimony, Pierre Breton, Member of Parliament for Shefford, Quebec, commented:
“Wow, thank you for your excellent presentations. It’s really from the heart, and I would say that you are excellent at explaining the issues – so if there is anyone who had a hard time understanding the scope of the challenge that you’ve been living through, well, now they understand it. Thank you for your testimony – it was exceptional. These are very sensible recommendations in my opinion, and they could be implemented very quickly.”
Martin Shields, Member of Parliament for Bow River, Alberta, said:
“I think you’re passionate, I think you’re great – but I understand fairness, and what we have is an industry that needs fairness, and we need legislation changed.”
During the question and answer portion of the hearing, Breton asked Mulholland which of the recommendations she offered could have a quick impact if enacted by government. Mulholland replied:
“Each one would have an immediate effect. The first one, the radio royalty exemption, getting rid of that subsidy – and again, subsidizing – artists are subsidizing the big media conglomerates – that needs to stop. And if that ended, that money would be filtered through into artists pockets immediately.
Same with sound recording … I just played with Alan Doyle on a new kids show that he’s writing the music for… if this was enacted and the sound recording wording was changed, as soon as that is played, I will get paid for my work – so that would help me immediately.
The private copying – that would help immediately as well.
And having a term extension would help me value my work for longer, so I would be able to leverage that if I was talking to a publisher or a label about my catalog. So all four would help me right now.”
Anju Dhillon, Member of Parliament for Dorval — Lachine — LaSalle, asked Mulholland:
“In many interviews you’ve done, I noticed that you’re talking about how the Copyright Act is not protecting creators and artists – what concrete changes would you like to see to the Copyright Act so that we can have more fairness and money can be distributed from the distributors to the creators?”
Mulholland replied that right now, she and her creator colleagues are subsidizing billionaires. She told Dhilllon, “the subsidies need to stop – so that would be the radio royalty exemption… it was supposed to be temporary, and it needs to be removed… We just want to have a functioning marketplace.”
Following the hearing, Committee members enthusiastically thanked and congratulated Mulholland for her concise and moving testimony.
(l-r) Members of Parliament Randy Boissonnault, Julie Dabrusin, Anju Dhillon and Pierre Breton with Miranda Mulholland
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.”