It was just a first formal meeting, between five European coalitions of artists with the American CCC (Content Creators Coalition), to define action and common positions in order to meet the challenges of the digital music revolution. But the meeting of Metz in France, at the 14th Rencontres européennes des artistes (REA), has led itself to the creation of a global organization – the World Artists’ Organization (WAO) – and to the adoption of a common charter draft.
Filings have not yet been filed, but for all participants to the 14th Rencontres européennes des artistes (REA), organized by french collective society Adami and held on 16 and 17 April in Metz, France, the meeting of several European coalitions of artists with the American CCC (Content Creators Coalition), at the initiative of the GAM (the French Guild of Music Artists), gave birth to the embryo of a global federation : the World Artists Organization (WAO). Spanish artists, greatly impressed by the political success obtained by the GAM in France since its inception less than 18 months ago, to the point of being the de facto initiator of the creation of a global guild of music artists, should not delay to join the movement . « We arranged to meet three or four times a year in our various countries, » have told representatives of the six coalitions of artists in Metz ; at meetings hosted by such events as the REA.
A Founding Conclave
The day before, a small conclave behind closed doors, in a meeting room at the La Citadelle hotel in Metz, was enough to agree on a number of crucial points, and to define a common philosophy and guidelines. « We were pleasantly surprised by our ability to work together, quickly, efficiently and with enthusiasm, » rejoiced publicly representatives of the coalitions, at a conference held in the following morning in Metz. Several bilateral meetings had already taken place. In recent years, national coalitions of artists have spread across Europe – following the creation of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) in the UK – to enable them to speak with one voice and collectively weigh in discussions affecting their future, especially in the digital world. « We approached the english FAC since the creation of the GAM, says Suzanne Combo, a french performer and the general secretary of the french guild of artists. We went to meet the Belgian FACIR last year, and we were already in contact with the Norwegian GRAMART and the American CCC . »
Be able to achieve common positions so quickly wasn’t self-evident. « Between David Byrne’s statements and Dave Allen’s positions, the latest having joined Beats, the views on streaming, in particular, are very divergent in the community of artists. This is one of the subjects on which we had to find common ground, confirmed Suzanne Combo. The challenge was to define the way artists can coexist with the digital world today. We wanted to do a number of common proposals . » These common proposals were arrested in just two to three hours in Metz, and are now posted online. The « awakening of artists » and their desire to regain control of their destiny are real, say the document. Belief is shared by all that « the development of artists can go in harmony with the development of the digital world. » With only one qualification : « We want to put creation at the center , because without the artists, there would be no producer, no show, no radio and no streaming, » say the joint text. For that, « it is essential that artists can […] participate, at all levels, in the development of the new mechanicals of the modern music industry. »
United beyond Unions, Societies and Borders
« We want to be recognized as full partners, » summarized the French artist Axel Bauer, one of the GAM founders, during the presentation of the charter draft – just before he creates an event at the REA 2014, referring for the first time to the creation of the WAO . « New digital paradigms : the artists unite beyond unions, collective societies and borders, » commented a French journalist on Twitter. « We will work closely at international level through the Internet, » said a GAM board member. Thanks to the Internet, artists can now be united on a global scale. For the first time, the collective impulse that governs the creation of the WAO will allow artists to « negotiate on equal terms with world giants and traditional monopolies that impose, until today, the way we operate for the collection, distribution and sharing of revenue, » state the six coalitions of artists, as well as it has allowed them to « open a direct and constructive dialogue with government authorities at the regional, national, european and global scale. »
For allied artists, building a business model favorable to them and to the whole music industry goes through a true « transparency » in the financial flows of the digital world and in the sharing of value. They also consider it is necessary to implement « balanced remuneration structures, » as well as a « better control and strengthening intellectual property rights. » The day before , Jacques Toubon, a former french minister of Culture, reminded us in Metz : « Copyright is the only capital of creators. »