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Radiohead join in on YouTube, MySpace protest

Radiohead have joined a protest with artists like Billy Bragg, Robbie Williams and KT Tunstall at how badly they are treated by record companies and music streaming websites like YouTube.

The Times report that the inaugural meeting of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), which will be held behind closed doors at a secret West End venue today is aimed at giving famous names a greater say in how music industry contracts are struck in an increasingly opaque digital age.

The FAC, which describes itself as a “coalition, not a union”, has been organised by Billy Bragg, the veteran protest singer, Dave Rowntree, the Blur drummer turned Labour Party candidate, and Radiohead.

The stars complain that performers often do not receive any royalties from digital music deals – struck on confidential terms none of the artists understand – and that music companies unfairly restrict creative expression by hanging on to copyright for up to 50 years.

Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, said: “The music companies did a deal with Nokia recently, so they could launch phones with access to all sorts of music. We think they all received advances from Nokia, but nobody is saying who got what – and we think some of that money should go to the artists.”

Another target of complaints is MySpace, the social networking website owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Times. Billy Bragg said: “I don’t know how much money MySpace makes from advertising, but we don’t receive any royalties from it. They are not putting any money back into content.”

Complaints about copyright are also expected to dominate, amid concerns that record companies insist on keeping ownership of songs for the entire fifty year period they remain under copyright. “It’s like taking out a mortgage on a house, paying off the mortgage and you still don’t end up owning the house,” O’Brien said.

However, there are signs that the effort at collective action is not impressing the record companies. One senior industry executive, who asked not to be named, said: “I don’t know if the the industry needs another lobby group; there are already plenty out there. We need to all pull together here.”

Other attendees are expected to include singer-songwriter Kate Nash, the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Limahl the former frontman of Kajagoogoo. But to form a plan of action will require agreement from a string of famous names who are not used to collective action. “We’ll have to see how it goes,” O’Brien said. “It could all end up in a great big ruck.”

25 Comments

  • Well besides Radiohead, it’s not a very
    impressive group of people. I would
    doubt if the FAC makes much of a dent in
    the record companies.

  • Dave Rowentree is impressive. He’s intelligent, and Blur’s a big deal in England.

  • I highly doubt this union will make a dent on the music industry. Myspace and youtube are controlled by major corporations, I don’t think there’s a way to control the music online (i.e. royalties).

  • Youtube’s actions are absolutely disgusting. Mafioso style action against a company not even representing labels, but representing artists. I hope enough artists stand up to this blackmail.

  • Sic.
    There’s nor enough control of the internet.
    I don’t know a lot.
    It looks like it’s mostly British artists complaining.

  • poor, poor rockstars :[

  • I don’t think this matters too much really, hasnt youtube just blocked music videos in the UK?

  • Radiohead’s videos are blocked now in the UK?? Even the ones they did for In Rainbows supposedly on their own dime or XL’s, that they posted to their very own channel?

  • Nick Mason’s group has sold over 200 million albums and his group’s music is undeniably some of the most popular of all time.

    I think he’s impressive.. now if I could just remember the group..

  • I’m thinking of starting a protest group against Yahoo Mail. I invest a lot of time and energy writing my mail. By displaying my mail to the recipient Yahoo is making a buck from the advertising revenue, and I’d like a slice of that cake. Please, and thank you.

  • Maybe I’m reading the article wrong, but how can Radiohead release a pay what you want album over the internet, which thousands of people didnt pay 1 penny for, and complain about their content being played over YouTube? Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.

  • [...] O’Brien was speaking at the launch of the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC) lobby group in London on Wednesday, on which we reported yesterday. [...]

  • To be fair, this article is written with a very obvious slant against this initiative and all the artists involved, probably not due to any faults of the initiative itself but the fact that it targets large corporations of which the Times of London (owned by Murdoch) is a repeat defender.

  • [...] esta información, queda claro que más que una parada contra Internet (como aparece titulado en varias partes), lo de la FAC es una movilización para que las disqueras se pongan las pilas y dejen de robar. Es [...]

  • Henry- that’s almost a funny joke. Except your mail has a “limited audience” and thereby not as much advertising $$$-income.

    To all others- some of your say argue that these people already earned their millions, but I think its absolutely FANTASTIC to have some rockstars fighting for the fairness of the media of the new generation. Wonderful to have the old masters help us out!

  • Much or not much is irrelevant. It’s a matter of principle. Yahoo is making profit by showing ads to my “limited audience”, and I think I should have a share in that.

  • Ok I just read somewhere else that Radiohead are agitating to get UK residents’ YouTube UNBLOCKED so…

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