Musicians meet to discuss broadcast rights

Tara Bradbury
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Concerns highlighted by Igor concert re-broadcasts

Tara Oram performs at the We Stand on Guard concert in aid of hurricane Igor victims last month.

Artists’ rights when it comes to broadcasts by local television stations is the main topic to be discussed at a meeting of local musicians this weekend, in light of concerns raised after last month’s “We Stand on Guard” benefit at Mile One Centre.

Dozens of Newfoundland and Labrador musicians participated in the fundraising concert, which raised about $600,000 for victims of hurricane Igor through the Red Cross.

The concert was also broadcast live on NTV, which aired it again later in the night and a few more times over the following week.

While its members aren’t alleging any wrongdoing on the part of NTV, the Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians’ Association is looking to put a contract in place for the next time a similar situation arises, in order to protect musicians’ rights.

Some of the musicians who took part in the benefit concert were concerned about the re-broadcasts and how it was affecting their personal rights, said Jordan Young, the association’s outreach and education officer.

“Not only do artists have copyrights on their original compositions, but if they’re performing covers, for instance when The Once performed a Leonard Cohen song, Leonard Cohen would have the copyright on that song,” he explained. “They very much have a say in what happens, even though a broadcaster may have produced or paid for the broadcast and still has some rights.”

NTV had asked for 24-hour broadcasting rights to the concert, Young said, and the participants agreed. The issues arose when the TV station re-broadcast it numerous times past the 24-hour time limit.

There was no contract or agreement in place giving them the right to do so, Young said, but there was nothing official to say they couldn’t do it, either.

“They didn’t do anything wrong — the crews gave a lot of their time, trying to help out in a time of crisis to raise money for those in need, but we still have artists who are thinking, ‘Oh jeez, they have this footage of me. What’s going to happen to it?’ It raises a lot of questions, and if there had been an agreement, there wouldn’t be these questions.”

"(NTV) didn't do anything wrong ... but we still have artists who are thinking, 'Oh jeez, they have this footage of me. What's going to happen to it?' It raises a lot of questions, and if there had been an agreement, there wouldn't be these questions." Jordan Young, Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians' Association

In other parts of the country, broadcasters negotiate with the Canadian Federation of Musicians, of which the local association is part, to make clear the rights when it comes to airing copyrighted material. From the get-go, pay scales, working conditions and other rights are set out in a contract, Young said.

In the case of the Mile One show, a few acts, including Hey Rosetta! and The Novaks, opted not to take part in the television broadcast, and performed before the cameras started rolling.

Lindsey Andrews, production and operations manager for NTV, said the station was actually approached by event promoters and organizers and asked to air the concert, to help fundraising efforts.

“In our opinion, that’s exactly what we did,” he said, adding the private television station was the only one to broadcast the “We Stand on Guard” event across the province, and actually took a hit to its own bottom line by pulling prime-time shows to air the concert.

Andrews said the station is interested in learning more about the association and who it represents, and has set up a meeting with association members for next week. It’s not a meeting to start any kind of negotiations, he said, but “purely an informal discussion to see what they have to say.”

When asked if he could see the association’s point of view on the matter, Andrews declined to comment.

“I can only say that if the musicians have a certain opinion on something, then obviously that’s their right, but as far as we’re concerned … we did exactly what was asked of us, and we rose to the occasion, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s kind of disheartening that this type of thing (would come up), but that’s life.”

The ’ association is inviting anyone who’s interested to attend the open meeting at Gower Street United Church in St. John’s between

3-5 p.m. Sunday.

Twitter: tara_bradbury

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians, Canadian Federation of Musicians, Gower Street United Church

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Bucko
    November 26, 2010 - 18:46

    Radio and television stations all over the country pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to SOCAN every year to cover the broadcast royalties of the songwriters they broadcast... Leonard Cohen will be probably be happy enough to get the royalty cheque with the few paltry cents (CAN) that the NL broadcast of his song earned. He doesn't really get a lot of airplay these days... I don't make a habit of defending NTV but it seems to me that if they didn't carry the concert, it probably wouldn't have raised as much money for the storm victims (remember them?)... and talk about biting the hand that feeds you; the artists who performed their own songs will still earn the broadcast royalty (if they were smart enough to register with SOCAN). There are still bands playing for $75 a man per night on George St. Is the Association going to have a meeting to discuss this indignity? Doubt it... One problem is that most musicians don't understand this stuff themselves, and honest artist management and representation is virtually non-existent in this province. I believe the Novaks and Rosetta's share the same management team in Halifax, and they're obviously smart enough to control their own image in a concert situation that they don't control themselves. It actually makes a lot of sense when you're trying to build a career like these groups. If the musicians association actually had a credible presence here in NL, it might actually have a few more members to extract dues from. Trying to "do something about it" after some perceived injustice reeks of recruitment drive.

  • JeffO
    November 26, 2010 - 17:40

    Pay scales, decent working conditions and other rights are not just recognized in "other parts of the country." Newfoundland musicians are paid fair, union scale wages by the CBC. CBC is the only NL broadcaster to have a signed agreement with the federation of musicians. NTV and Out of the Fog have been ripping off local musicians for years by broadcasting their work for nothing. But it's the musicians own fault for letting it happen.

    • Bucko
      November 27, 2010 - 08:56

      Ripping off? Rogers and NTV most likely don't make a cent off local music. How can you make money off acts that A: nobody knows B: nobody likes C: may sell 10 cd's at Fred's to their hipster "artsy" friends. I would imaging it's more of a detriment to a station to have non-superstar local groups on their show because, frankly, most of them are pretty unknown outside of the little circle of bands downtown. Hear that? It's the sound of channels changing in Corner Brook, Gander, Grand Falls, Labrador because they don't know or care who Pathological Lovers are. Jeffo, there's a line-up a mile long of bands and singers wanting to get on TV to hawk their new CD... CBC may have a national agreeement with the Musicians Union, but they don't really hire any musicians or produce local music shows anymore. The 80's and 90's are long gone. And by the way, we're the ones paying those contracts, us, the citizens and taxpayers of Canada. Personally, I don't mind if it's good... As we all know, the CBC has no problem spending our money. But really, if the experienced musicians (Billy and the Bruisers, Shanneygannock) who organized this benefit wanted the groups to "get paid" for being on TV, why wasn't a contract mentioned when the tv station was approached and asked to broadcast the show? Seems kinda stupid to forget something that has become so important all of a sudden. If the musicians are worried about copyright issures, maybe they should write their own damn music and stop covering other artists to make money. How about all those bands that are "ripping off" Leonard Cohen, Kings of Leon, Guns and Roses and U2 and others by gladly getting paid for a gig but not fireing off a few bucks to the songwriters of the covers they performed.

    • Bucko
      November 27, 2010 - 09:34

      How is re-broadcasting a benifit concert ripping off" musicians?

  • Mike
    November 26, 2010 - 09:38

    You would think the heavily sponsored and funded MusicNL would be all over this? Where are they? Have they got involved? Don't they give workshops on copyright issues? Pathetic response from them if you ask me!

  • Dave
    November 26, 2010 - 09:15

    They did this about five years ago for something else. I think it was Kelly-Ann Evans who came out and said something about it. Making comment to 'losing money' on the benefit... that's the point bonehead. Except when it's a benefit, it's called giving. Get a grip. Artists gave their time to. Kudos to the management of the Novaks and Hey Rosetta! for being smart enough to see this before it happens. Rest assured, if Cohen's people get ahold of this... it won't be good for NTV.