US president-elect Donald Trump is meeting a group of tech leaders today in New York, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Larry Page and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
Ahead of the event, a group of US music-industry bodies have sent a letter to Trump urging him to stick to his promises on protecting intellectual property rights and standing up to big technology firms.
“Music is responsible for the most-followed accounts on Facebook and Twitter, the most-watched videos on YouTube, and is one of the most popular draws for phones and other personal devices,” claimed the letter, which was signed by 19 bodies including the RIAA, A2IM, ASCAP, BMI, the Music Managers Forum, NMPA, the Recording Academy, SESAC and SoundExchange.
“As partners, many in the technology and corporate community should be commended for doing their part to help value creators and their content. Some have developed systems to promote a healthy market for music and deter theft. However, much more needs to be done. Search engines, user upload content platforms, hosting companies, and domain name registrars and registries should follow others’ example to effectively stop theft and assure fair payment.”
The letter goes on to address the “value grab” debate with a call for tech platforms using music to be “paying fair market value for music with prices set by or based on the free market”.
It represents the hope among many sections of the music industry that Trump’s administration will take a more hawkish approach towards technology and copyright than that of his predecessor Barack Obama.
There are other debates to be had around this lobbying, though. Earlier this week, influential tech journalist Kara Swisher castigated the Silicon Valley bosses attending Trump’s tech summit, claiming that they “should be ashamed of themselves” for helping to normalise Trump and some of his campaign rhetoric.
There’s an argument for asking similar questions of music-industry representatives congratulating Trump on his election and trying to influence his approach to copyright.
Can those bodies find the right balance between making their voice heard on the important areas of technology and intellectual property, while also standing up to be counted against any policies from the new administration that represent an attack on the diversity that’s such an important part of the music community – as well as individual areas (healthcare, for example) that directly affect the lives of working musicians?
We will find out over the next four years.