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Fair Trade Music embraced at the World Creators Summit

By:Lily Cheng | Published:6/21/2013

Songwriters Association of Canada (S.A.C.) President Eddie Schwartz travelled to Washington DC earlier this month to participate in the World Creator's Summit.  It is an annual conference where representatives from performance royalty organizations from around the world, including SOCAN, along with organizations that represent songwriters, composers and publishers, as well as government officials and politicians gather to discuss important matters that have the potential to shape world views and policies pertaining to the value of creation.

At the summit, Eddie spoke on a panel entitled, "New Approaches in the Digital Age," where the concept of Fair Trade Music was presented.  Participants immediately latched onto the idea.  Just as people have embraced Fair Trade Coffee because they want to make sure that the producers of the fundamental product they are purchasing, in this case coffee farmers, are properly compensated - it is easy to draw a parallel to music and the fair compensation of those who actually make the music.  Introducing the concept of Fair Trade Music is the first step towards creating a future where songwriters are paid fairly for their work.

This year's meeting was an important opportunity to solidify relationships with several key organizations to form a unified voice in the fight to protect the rights of creators.  As a result, the Music Creators North America Charter was signed by the S.A.C., Screen Composers Guild of CanadaSPACQ (La Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec), and Songwriters Guild of America (additional organizations are also in the midst of signing on).  

In addition a separate conference was held that brought together international organizations with similar interests including the European Composer Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) which presents 40 member organizations across Europe.

Why are these relationships so important?  

While many parties claim to speak on behalf of music creators, the interests of these various parties may not be the same.  As our President, Eddie  has worked tirelessly to ensure that songwriters can have a unified voice during these chaotic times.  Furthermore, as the ability of creators to make a living has been threatened around the world, most of the large companies that are conduits to music consumers are global companies.  As a result, creators need to organize globally in order to have a unified voice.  Advocating only locally, or even nationally, is no longer the only option.

It is incredible to see the synergy that has been created in the span of only one year.  This has been and continues to be a huge undertaking spanning multiple countries and continents.  

What lies ahead? 

As we continue our efforts in building relationships and understanding within the network of alliances that has been established including the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA), Music Creators North America (MCNA), the International Council of Creators of Music (CIAM), the Pan African Composers and Songwriters Alliance (PACSA) and the Alliance of Latin American Creators of Music (ALCAM), we also look ahead towards planning out the research required to define actual standards towards implementing Fair Trade Music.  Our hope is that it will not only be a concept, but a measurable set of terms by which music services can be measured.  The ultimate goal being that consumers will have the option to access music in ways they know will fairly compensate the creators behind the songs.

S.A.C. Members can be proud to be part of an organization that has played a pivotal role in bringing together an international network that has brought forth the Fair Trade Music initiative.