The European Commission has published its proposals to modernise collecting societies and simplify pan-European music licensing.
They call for “improved governance and greater transparency” for the societies, including speeding up payments, but also requiring societies who license across multiple territories to comply with European standards, making it easier for digital services to launch across the region.
“More efficient collecting societies would make it easier for service providers to roll out new services available across borders – something that serves both European consumers and cultural diversity,” said EC commissioner for internal market and services Michel Barnier.
Expect the various societies to respond in the coming days (the obvious joke: some will take a few months). PRS for Music has already welcomed the plans as “the route to building further confidence in collective management”, while also hailing its “standards-based approach to data and processing capability to support multi-territory licensing, because it will provide the incentives for the market to develop and aggregate on a voluntary basis”.
Is everyone happy? No. A joint letter signed by artists including Nick Mason, Ed O’Brien, Sandie Shaw and CJ Bolland has criticised the EC’s suggestion that societies can keep unpaid royalties after five years, if they can’t find the payee.
“You have broken your promises and encourage the management of collecting societies to keep the fruits of our creativity… You thus legitimise one of the most problematic forms of embezzlement adopted by some collecting societies in Europe.”
Further confidence in collective management? There is still work to do there, to say the least. The hope is that the new proposals will at least bolster the transparent, honest societies at the expense of the shadier ones.