Stiart Johnston
Stiart Johnston

CIMA Calls Apple Out Over Royalty Scandal

On the eve of its 40th anniversary celebration (tonight at Toronto's The Great Hall), CIMA President Stuart Johnston has published an open letter on the indie music association's website and Facebook page, peeling a strip off Apple for its outrageous "arrogance" in asking for a royalty payment holiday for its new music service, and demanding that the company "stop its shameful business practices and pay the artists and labels now."

In full, Johnston writes:

Why is music still considered a free commodity?

Why are artists still considered second-class citizens, and their music (their art; their craft; their livelihood) expected to be just given away?

Why are commercial interests of corporations being built on the backs of our musical artists, without fair and due compensation to them?

These questions are raised yet again, after it has been revealed that Apple will pay zero royalties (as in nothing, nada, zip) to our independent artists and their labels and publishers, when it launches its three-month trial period for its new streaming service, Apple Music.

It is an outrage that any company, let alone Apple, will refuse to pay independent artists, the labels and the publishers supporting them. Is Apple refusing to pay its staff during this free trial period? Is it refusing to pay its many suppliers? Does Apple expect to get its marketing and promotion services for free – all for the reason that it will supposedly receive no revenues during this free trial period?

We think not.

Apple should know better.

It should be first in line to pay for the art on which its business model is based. It’s called the cost of doing business, folks, and it works very well in practically every other industry.

Why then does the music industry get shafted?

Music is a commodity, which has value on many different levels to be sure, not the least of which is monetary value. Artists should be paid for their work. Period. End of sentence. Aside from the creative blood, sweat and tears that an artist puts in to write and record a song, it takes real dollars to make it a reality and bring that music to market.

Who else would work as hard as our artists and expect to do so for free? Certainly not Apple.

So for Apple to refuse to pay artists for their work for this length of time is a shock, and is, quite frankly, a rip off to those artists and the companies that support them.

The arrogance of any company to believe that its business model should be based on getting something for nothing – and exploiting that for its own mass profits – is shameful. Period.

Apple is using its considerable weight to bully independent labels and their artists to sign a deal that will only benefit Apple – and not the hard working songwriters, recording artists and independent record labels that create music every day.

This exploitation of our artists and the music industry in general must stop. And Apple should set the example here and do what is right – stop its shameful business practices and pay the artists and labels now!

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