On Nov. 22 in Ottawa, a panel of representatives from different cultural industries shared their perspective on how the digital marketplace has affected their industries and individual careers. The panel followed a powerful keynote by Miranda Mulholland, an artist and entrepreneur who highlighted the challenges for artists working in today’s digital age and proposed solutions to help ameliorate the current situation in the music ecosystem. Among these challenges is the Value Gap, defined as the significant disparity between the value of creative content that is accessed and enjoyed by consumers, and the revenues that are returned to the people and businesses who create it.
The panel, which was moderated by Vassy Kapelos, Global National’s Ottawa Bureau Chief and host of The West Block, included:
- Alan Frew – Songwriter, Public Speaker & Author
- Ari Posner – Film & Television Composer
- Roanie Levy – President & CEO, Access Copyright
A selection of quotes from the panel are included below, with Ms. Kapelos’ questions in bold.
What does the Value Gap mean to you?
- Posner: “For someone like me, who is not a songwriter but someone who works on the soundtracks for television and movies … I am part of a world that I think has only been moments behind the songwriting world… because what has happened with songwriting and streaming, and the massive devaluation of that content has also begun happening because of the Netflix, and the Hulu and the Amazon streaming services – which are undeniably great ways to enjoy the entertainment – but there is a massive, massive difference in the way that they are valuing the music and the performances that are going on on those networks. Literally it could be as much as a 95 to 98% difference in how something would have paid an artist over time on terrestrial television, versus how it is being now streamed on Netflix. So to me, that’s a big part of what the Value Gap is.”
- Levy: “The Value Gap is just as real for writers as it is for a musician, but it comes from a different space, and it’s been created in a different way… in 2012, there were some changes introduced in the Copyright Act, and as Miranda said, some where great, and some really created more problems than they solved. And one of those problems that created was in fact in the educational use of content.”
Do you think the idea of an artist who can pursue their craft full-time is now long gone?
- Posner: “In my world of scoring, it’s certainly become drastically less of a possibility…. I really do think there is this huge area of the middle-class that is going to disappear…. Potentially, we could lose a whole generation of Canadian talent that just is not going to be able to make it a go of it, it’s just going to be a hobby… I don’t think we want to live in a world where it’s only the Drakes and only the Taylor Swifts that are able to rise to the top… imagine if Joni Mitchell couldn’t get there because that’s what’s rising to the top simply based on business, it’s kind of a scary thing… So as we’re up here saying our work needs to be valued more, it’s vital to the consumer that it be valued more, so that the choices are there.”
- Frew: “I get young artists all the time, asking me about how to make it – and I am just at a complete loss as to where to begin…. I think that artists that are still in the position I’m in, we have a sort of moral and professional obligation to join the quest and speak up on behalf of these young artists.”
- Levy: “From the writing and publishing world, it’s about using Canadian content in our classroom. It’s about not using American textbooks, and having actually a vibrant writing and publishing sector, so we have the content that we need in our classrooms. And we are already seeing the impact of this Value Gap.”
Where does government fit in in all this? You heard Miranda talk about the Copyright Act Review … what are some tangible things that you hope to see come out of that review?
- Levy: “There are solutions – what we haven’t seen now is a willingness to actually go through the hard parts and put those solutions in place. We need to put the creator at the heart of Copyright Act…That needs to be the lens by which we conduct the review of the Act, and then we need to have the courage to make the changes that are necessary.”
- Posner: “We need a voice at the table. And it needs to happen fast – faster than it has happened.”
What is your level of optimism?
- Frew: “It’s like any other great movement – it’s one voice at a time… one step at a time… My level of faith would be equal to the level of faith that I have that people like Miranda and Stan (Meissner), and these advocates that are willing to step up to the plate on behalf of us, as long as there’s enough of us who raise our voices…. What are we asking for? We’re asking for fairness.”
Video of the keynote and panel is now available online, and embedded below.