Wednesday, I had the pleasure of hearing Rich Bengloff speak. Â For those who dont know Rich, he is the President of A2IM, Â The American Association of Independent Music. Â Rich spoke on a number of fronts and issues important to the organization, including but not limited to increasing international trade, the power of the "Indys" in the music industry (30% of sales), capital hill advocacy and outreach, etc. Â But none of the things said rang as true to me as the statement that "...just because you are independent does not mean your intellectual property is worth less."
Think about it.
For those of us working with independents, it seems that we have been beaten down with the concept that indy music is worth less than major label music. Â Why is this? Â I think we have been conditioned to believe this. Â Pavlov's response to years of being told how great the "Majors" were.
For me this is personal. Â I represent a group of independent labels in the licensing world and encounter this all the time. Â Regardless of the project, the sentiment is always, well we are giving majors this much with "most favored nations" and because you are not a major we are giving you this much (a fraction of the other) with a "most favored nations with independents." Â How infuriating. Â This not only applies to record labels, but also to the dichotomy between Masters and Publishing in the licensing world. Â Some publishers have a very balanced approach to splitting licensing deals (you know who you are and I appreciate the heck out of you). Â Others live under the belief that they are the ONLY place to get the publishing while there are other places to get the masters... leaving them less willing to work with the licensees. Â In many cases they ARE and they are correct. Â This power they wield makes total sense - competition after all brings prices down (simple economics). Â But in other cases, where there may be only 1 commercial recording of the work in question they carry no more power than the master rights holder. Â Finding and understanding the difference between these two scenarios proves difficult for them.
So how do we overcome this stigma? Â What do we do about it? Â Well- I think the best thing independents can do to overcome these issues and raise the value of our products is educate the consumer (licensee, concert goer, etc). Â Let them know that independent music matters. Â That we are more than 30% of the music market combined. Â That we are the LARGEST single segment of the music market (The majors each fall under this mark). Â And most of all don't take the value of your music for granted. Â You are an artist, label, publisher. Â You make and sell art. Â Art that carries little or no value ceases to be art in the eyes of the consumer. Â Protect your art at all costs. Â As Liu Yiqian, a renowned stock market and art investor said so aptly...Â â€œ...art has no value until it becomes the target of capital.â€