Business News Labels & Publishers

New neighbouring rights trade body launches

By | Published on Tuesday 6 November 2018

Independent Alliance for Artists Rights (IAFAR)

Founders of a new trade body focused on the so called neighbouring rights sector have formally announced the launch of the new organisation, to be known as the Independent Alliance For Artists Rights, of IAFAR for short.

‘Neighbouring rights’ can be a confusing term because it has a number of different definitions around the world. However, it is commonly used in the record industry today to mean the ‘performing rights’ of the sound recording copyright or, more specifically, the performer’s right to share in income generated by the exploitation of the performing rights.

Confused already? Well, copyright law provides copyright owners with a number of controls over the copyright work they own. The exact list of controls varies from country to country but commonly includes a reproduction control, a distribution control, a rental control, an adaptation control, a performance control and a communication control.

In the music industry the latter two are commonly grouped together and called the ‘performing rights’. Or, increasingly in the record industry, the ‘neighbouring rights’.

Meanwhile, copyright law also includes a thing called performer rights. These performer rights usually include a provision that says that when the performing rights of a sound recording copyright are exploited, any performer who appears on that sound recording should receive ‘equitable remuneration’. This ER right exists oblivious of what any contract the performer has with the actual copyright owner may or may not say.

Quite what the ER right actually means, copyright law generally doesn’t say. What usually happens is that performing rights income on recorded music is split 50/50, with half going to the copyright owner (usually a label) and half being shared between the performers who appear on the track (both the featured artist and the session musicians). Collecting societies usually administrate performing rights income and they are in charge of making sure that both copyright owners and performers – ie labels and artists – get paid.

In the good old days of the CD boom, few in the music industry paid much attention to periphery revenue streams like neighbouring rights, but when CD sales started to slide in the early 2000s everyone became much more interested in any other source of income.

To that end a number of companies – including music distributors and music publishers – launched neighbouring rights agencies to help labels and artists administer this revenue stream. The money usually comes in via the collective licensing system, but these agents can help ensure that collecting society databases are correct and that monies flow through the system in a more accurate and more efficient manner.

It’s companies working in this space – including Kobalt, Wixen and Inside Baseball Music – that have founded this new organisation IAFAR. The founders say that there are a number of issues with the way neighbouring rights income flows – or doesn’t flow, as the case may be – but because the more formal management of this revenue stream is relatively new, beneficiaries of these royalties are often unaware of said issues.

The new trade organisation says it seeks “to tackle worldwide issues affecting the collection of artists neighbouring rights and to provide education in the form of workshops, seminars, and literature to artists and organisations”.

IAFAR membership is open to anyone who is a beneficiary of Performer ER or who represents such artists. Kobalt Neighbouring Rights MD Ann Tausis explains: “Anyone who is a performing artist, or represents at least one performing artist and is not a collective management organisation, may become a member of IAFAR. We have had great interest from the industry so far, confirming the genuine need for this organisation. Strength in numbers, power in knowledge”.

Meanwhile Wixen Music UK President Naomi Asher adds: “This is a long time in the making. As this income stream grows in its importance, so does the need for a neutral industry body to provide support for those whose livelihoods depend on it. We are very excited that IAFAR is finally a reality”.

IAFAR will officially launch at an event in London on 21 Nov.