A delegation of composers and songwriters today met with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso to discuss their concerns on a looming decision which they claim could have a "lasting disaster for all Europeans, culturally."
The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance delegation -- headed by Bee Gee and CISAC president Robin Gibb, British Academy of Composers and Songwriters chairman/ECSA spokesman David Ferguson, film score composer Patrick Doyle and French movie score composer Laurent Petitgirard -- met this morning with Barroso to discuss developments in the pan-European licensing of music rights.
The key issue in the appeal with Barroso is the fact that the European Directorate General (DG) Competition wants to push through an earlier EU proposal on the management of online music rights. This would mean European societies would be forced to compete on price, leading to what they charge will be a radical reduction in the income of music creators.
More than 200 artists have written letters to Barroso expressing their worries about the pending decision, which they say could spell disaster for European composers and songwriters, and, ultimately for European culture. Pedro Almodóvar, David Arnold, Charles Aznavour, Miguel Bosé and David Gilmour are among the signatories.
"The decision will be creating major difficulties for smaller societies who represent less mainstream repertoire," said Doyle during a press meeting at the Silken Berlaymont Hotel in Brussels, following the ECSA's encounter with Barroso.
"If they are no longer able to offer access to worldwide repertoire because the rights are being removed from the reciprocal agreements," added Doyle, "they will no longer have the volume of business to support their own domestic writers."
The ECSA delegation pleaded with Barroso for "political leadership" and to bring together all parties involved. "In my personal view, as a songwriter, and speaking for all creators, I think there's an ongoing dialog we need. This is nothing that is going to happen overnight -- our job is not to make this happen overnight -- but we are chipping away the stone," commented Gibb.
"We're realistic," adds Ferguson, "And we're not getting the result that we really want out of this. But it's for us (ECSA) to develop our presence here, make sure that we have an everyday in the European political situation. We need to speak for ourselves, we don't need other people like publishers or collection societies to do this on our behalf. The EC decision is crucial, we know...If you don't write the music, you haven't got any, and what we want is to safeguard the future of music, songwriters and composers."
The ECSA was founded in March 2007, and represents 36 organisations of composers and songwriters in 25 European countries.