The Artist Rights Alliance is a membership, artist run non-profit that represents creators in a digital landscape. The group recently announced that it would be creating a 93 artist music council with several well known artists. Those joining the group include Bette Midler, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, T Bone Burnett, Sheryl Crow and Keb’ Mo’.
News of the new council was released June 18. The council’s mission is to ‘provide perspective and advisory input’ to the organization while raising awareness on the current issues affecting content creators. Recently, the ARA has been actively supporting the passage of the Music Modernization Act and the reformation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The organization also unveiled an Artist Bill of Rights. This outlines the organization’s “fundamental principles and recommendations for today’s music economy and to keep the artistic community aware of their rights as it pertains to their work.” Topics covered in the document include fair pay for streaming services, copyright law, political participation, reducing industrial scale piracy and minimizing tech platforms that “unfairly profit from music.”
The ARA also addressed the potential merger between Liberty Media and iHeart Media. They feel the partnership "would give Liberty Media an unprecedented stake in the broadcast media world.”
The group is also launching an online artist forum which would educate artists of their rights, provide resources and serve as a meeting space for grassroots organizing and other activities.
ARA board member Roseanne Cash released the following statement regarding the steps the organization is taking. “We are so grateful to our Music Council volunteers who will join with us to advocate for our peers in building a more compassionate and enduring music economy. It has never been easy for independent musicians to earn a living, and it’s indescribably harder today in the current global crisis. We must work together to defend today’s hardworking musicians, and to protect the next generation of artists.”
Another board member and founder of the band Cake, John McCrea added “Even before the pandemic, the music economy was teetering on the edge. Technology companies prosper, while musicians are paid micro-pennies per stream, not to mention the loss of funds from touring. This crisis has laid bare what a slender reed our fellow musicians were hanging onto and calls upon us to get work building something new and more humane. ARA has always operated on an artist-to-artist model, connecting, engaging, and empowering each other built on the basic truth that no one will fight for you if you aren’t out there fighting for yourself.”
Other board members include music manager Thomas Manzi, singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, guitarist Matthew Montfort and label executive and musician Maggie Vail. The organization’s executive director is political strategist and former House of Representatives staffer Ted Kalo.
It has always been difficult for musicians to get the pay they deserve, especially in the digital space. With the pandemic further taking away from income potential, it is hopeful that the ARA’s new developments will help artists thrive. We look forward to seeing the positive changes this makes for the future.