|Title:||Distributed Ownership in Music: Between Authorship and Performance|
|Citation:||Aguilar, A. (2017) Distributed Ownership in Music: Between Authorship and Performance. Social & Legal Studies, 27(6), pp776-798|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data were collected from 36 in-depth interviews with participants identified via snowball sampling as music performers, composers, producers or combination thereof. This tranche of interviews was supplemented with two further interviews from a separate study, involving industry and government representatives. Interview responses were thereafter processed using MaxQDA11 software to conceptualise themes.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“Following criticisms of British copyright law that it is influenced by Romantic ideals of authorship, I ask whether it makes sense to distinguish between music composers and performers in law. Drawing on interviews with classical and popular music performers and relevant case law, I examine how performers negotiate and exploit different rights in order to determine ownership. Evidence suggests that rather than a binary, musicians’ creative work can best be represented as moving along a continuum between composition and performance with both concepts socially much in use. Musicians position their work on this continuum according to three motifs: composer–performer discourses and careers, genre and power relationships. I argue that the legal categories of joint or individual authorship, adaptation and performance protect most contributions to a musical work and align with the social understandings of different types of contributions. Yet I also note that, viewed more normatively, a recasting of the rights could help shift those social understandings and alter the inequalities inherent in both musical practices and the law.”
Main Results of the Study
The study finds that whilst composers and performers benefit from flexibility through a combination fo statutory and contractual mechanisms, copyright law is perceived as lacking legitimacy due to its complexity. This may result in power imbalances between parties, and is particularly likely to adversely impact younger and less experienced artists.
Three main themes are noted in regards composer-performer relationships:
• The music industry replicates and reinforces the primacy of the romantic author, characterised by a strong sense of ownership, even at the expense of performers. Composers are understood to be the creator or originator, and performer as executor/externaliser, a fact which is often reinforced throughout an artist’s education. As such, buy-out contracts are common, with only unwaivable equitable remuneration rights for performers remaining.
• Perceptions of composer-performer relationships vary across genres, with classical musicians more likely to follow the strong ownership discourse. Members of urban and dance genres are less likely to view these relationships as such, with performers contributions percieved as being of equal value.
• Relationships of power are also significant, with artists’ contributions measured in financial and social capital. As such, where large financial gains are made from a particular musicians contribution (e.g. Elvis as performer), joint authorship may reflect the value of this contribution.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study does not make any explicit policy recommendations.