By Eddie Schwartz
What is Fair Trade Music?
The Fair Trade Music initiative is the joint effort of key music creator organizations, representing more than 25,000 songwriters and composers around the world.
What’s the goal of Fair Trade Music?
Fair Trade Music – much like Fair Trade Coffee – is built on the belief that given an option, consumers will choose to purchase their music from sources where they know music creators are fairly compensated. In order to begin this process, we developed “The Fair Trade Music Principles.” They can be seen here.
What’s the problem?
A good example of what music creators are dealing with can be seen in a typical publishing statement that details a young songwriter’s earnings from Spotify.
This statement shows that a particular song was streamed 162,525 times. Total royalties reported for those streams are $11.46. Since this songwriter receives 50% of those royalties (as does the publisher, a common arrangement), those 162,525 streams represent $5.73 to the songwriter, or $00.000035 per stream. (For many songs, 2 or 3 songwriters might further divide this amount.) So one million streams would pay the songwriter $35.00. One hundred million streams would pay $3,500. One billion streams would pay $35,000.
At the height of the music industry little more than a decade ago, sales in the US of 500,000 records were considered a rare enough achievement to warrant a “Gold” record. The much rarer achievement of 1 million sales was awarded with a “Platinum” disc, . which would generate approximately $40,000 for the songwriter(s). To achieve comparable compensation in the digital realm, the work in question would need to be more than 1,000 times more successful than “Platinum.”
What’s the current stage of implementation of Fair Trade Music?
Research is being conducted to define fair compensation for music creators in streaming services. Then we will set criteria by which music services can be evaluated, and those that meet them will be approved to display a “Fair Trade Music” logo. That way, consumers will know which services fairly compensate the creators behind the songs.
Who’s on board?
• European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) – more than 40 member
organizations across Europe
• Music Creators North America (MCNA) – five North American organizations
representing music creators
• International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM),
• Pan African Composers and Songwriters Alliance (PACSA)
• Alliance of Latin American Creators of Music (ALCAM)
What can songwriters do?
Support the above-mentioned organizations by becoming a member of the Songwriters Association of Canada.