Independant Artist Petition

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Petition Details



Independant Artist Petiton

Hello, I am Lester Smith, a retired SGT of the US army turned musician. I have seen the music industry change dramatically over the past 20 years, and I’m sure it will continue to change as the industry evolves.

In 2018 The Music Modernization Act was passed to update the music licensing landscape for the licensing of music by digital services. As an independent musician, I am happy that the issues plaguing the music industry are being discussed and addressed. However, I realize that independent musicians don’t have a voice to represent us in these matters.

Independent musicians should have a voice that speaks loudly and is respected, as we make up the majority of the music industry. I believe musicians should have a level of ownership of the intellectual property (music masters) they create that cannot be transferred and must remain with the artist. This ownership can be signed away to a record label or entity for a period of time not to exceed five years. In the event that the musician dies before fulfilling an obligation, ownership of the original artist (music masters) will be returned to the musician’s estate. However, the label or company will have the right to recoup all the monies invested in the musician x2.

Another major issue within the practices of the music industry is the collection of Black Box Royalties by local publishers on behalf of musicians that have no contractual obligation with the collecting entity. I propose that Black Box royalties be placed into a creative commons fund that can be used to facilitate/fund creative ventures for artists. The Black Box fund should be managed publicly on the blockchain with a board of artists that vote on when and how the funds are allocated.

Basic rights for musicians will ensure that musicians are protected from the long-standing predatory practices of the major labels and the contracts they use to acquire ownership of musicians, their work, and brands. The independent musicians collective has grown to be over a 2 billion dollar industry without structure or a unified voice. Looking forward into the future of music and how blockchain technology (NFT’s) will change the landscape of music similar to how streaming in the early 2010’s. This will bring many new business models for artist to explore. Moving into what is currently known as Web3, the ownership of masters will become more important that ever as only the copyright/master owner is authorized to mint an NFT of any original artistic work.

There is legal precedence in favor of artist reclaiming there rights to their masters. This comes in the form of a legal provision outlined in the 1976 Copyright Revision Act, which states that artists whose albums were released in the year 1978 and afterward all become eligible to file paperwork with the U.S. Copyright Office allowing them to reclaim ownership of their music copyrights and master recordings from their record labels after a period of 35 years.However, since the first batch of these recordings became eligible for reverting ownership in 2013, comparatively few artists have gone through this process allowing them reclaim ownership of their music and even fewer know that they have a legal right to reclaim them. Thus, there is no time to waste as Independent artist are already decades behind major labels in this matter. Independent artist lose over 200 million dollars a month to Black Box royalties, without accounting for the billions of dollars generated by an artist’s catalog after their death which is also collected by the catalog owner (major Labels). There is no way I truly quantify what’s being lost and or taken from independent artist in this current model, however, it is clear that irrevocable damage has been done and the only way forward is with basic protections in place for all artist.

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This petition will be delivered to

The United States Congress
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib

Petition News



Web3 is opening up a new horizon of possibility for musicians, labels and fans. Here’s a look at how non-fungible tokens (NFTs) can serve as a bridge leading into the metaverse – and into a new era of music.  ...

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Black Box Royalties Cost Indie Artist Millions!!

Black Box Royalties Cost Indie Artist Millions!!

The Black Box refers to a pool of revenue at a collection society where the songwriter and/or publisher of songs that have generated revenue cannot be located or traced. These royalties are referred to as black box royalties (aka “unallocated royalties” or “unclaimed...

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Music Modernization Act

Music Modernization Act

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) updates the copyright law to make statutory licensing more fair for creators and more efficient for digital music providers. It is divided into three key titles, outlined below:

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