ARTIST ORGS BACK THE FAIR ACT (UPDATE)

The Music Artists Coalition and SAG-AFTRA are asking their members, creatives and labor allies to support just-introduced legislation in the California State Assembly, the Free Artists From Industry Restrictions Act, aka the FAIR Act (AB 1385).

Introduced by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the legislation would reform Section 2855 of the California Labor Code—the Seven Year Statute—to limit production studios and record labels from unilaterally holding artists off the job market, unpaid, for onerous periods of time.

It would give artists freedom from contracts that originated when labels had disproportionate leverage.

“Streaming has been an unprecedented bonanza for record labels but not so for artists,” said Irving Azoff, founder of the Music Artists Coalition. “It's 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 in support of this important initiative. We must modernize this archaic law to protect artists.”

Designed nearly 150 years ago, the Seven Year Statute protected all Californians from being trapped in long-term employment contracts. In 1987, the law was amended to exclude recording artists; the FAIR Act will extend the protection of the statute to recording artists.

Artist manager and MAC Board Member John Silva says that recording contracts are the only ones in California that last more than seven years and they should be treated like baseball players or coders.

“Recording artists often commit to contracts when one set of leadership is in place . . . and within seven years, there have often been multiple changes in that leadership,” he said. “Signing with a team who shares your creative vision does not ensure that that team stays in place; it only assures that the artist is bound to the corporate entity. California law should extend equally to all players.”

The FAIR ACT will also modernize the law to reflect how film, television and music are made and distributed today by limiting the length of time production studios and record labels are able to hold actors and recording artists.

Attorney Peter Paterno noted that The Beatles’ recording career was all of seven years. “The labels, which are seeing unprecedented valuations and gearing up for sky-high IPOs, somehow feel entitled to more from their artists than the entire recorded output of The Beatles,” he said. “That recording artists, who have spoken truth to power for ages, should be treated differently and more onerously than any other California employee is both inexplicable and unacceptable. It’s time for this inequity to end.”

The FAIR Act will be heard in the Assembly Labor Committee. More information about the legislation can be found here.

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