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Music Artists Coalition supports change to Californian law to extend seven year rule to music-makers

By | Published on Monday 22 March 2021

Music Artists Coalition

The US Music Artists Coalition last week supported proposals to reform the seven year rule in California’s employment laws so that recording artists will definitely benefit from the principle.

That rule within Californian state law says that people can cancel personal service contracts after seven years. Quite what that means for record and music publishing contracts signed in California has long been debated, given such music industry deals tend to be linked to output – ie number of albums or songs – rather than time.

In terms of record deals, a 1980s amendment to the rule has proven significant over the years. It says that labels can seek damages if an artist cancelling a deal after seven years means they are out of pocket based on their upfront investment. Artists and managers argue that – in most cases – that renders this particular protection under Californian law useless for music-makers.

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has now proposed changes to the California Labor Code – dubbed the FAIR Act – that would ensure recording artists could benefit from the seven year rule. It would also increase the rights of actors who are under exclusivity deals with production studios in the state.

Speaking on behalf of the MAC, veteran artist manager Irving Azoff said last week: “Streaming has been an unprecedented bonanza for the record labels, but not so for artists. It is unfair that the only Californians excluded from the protection of the seven year statute are recording artists. We ask our record label partners and members of the California legislature to join us and support this important initiative. We must protect artists and modernise this archaic law”.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez added: “The landscape of the entertainment industry has dramatically changed, yet companies still benefit from outdated laws that allow them to wield an overwhelming amount of control over artists. No worker should ever be bound to an unreasonable contract that holds them back from making decisions about their own livelihood. It’s time we changed the law to reflect a new reality for creators. I introduced the FAIR Act to simply ensure artists are empowered to freely practice their craft and pursue a career doing what they love”.