Artist manager Colin Lester has hit out at the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) over what he sees as the organization’s “misguided views” on file-sharing, ahead of a crunch meeting to be held by the FAC on the issue.
The government consultation on its proposals to combat illegal file-sharing concludes on Sept. 29. As the deadline looms, artists have been speaking out on the issue, with some challenging the FAC’s opposition to plans by Lord Mandelson, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, to oblige Internet Service Providers to suspend the accounts of copyright infringers.
A closed meeting has been urgently arranged at Air Studios in London tonight by the FAC “to hammer out a unified position on this issue.”
Lester, CEO of London-based CLM Entertainment, manages artists including Craig David and Remi Nicole. He said that, along with his artists, he has resigned from the FAC – although a spokesman for the organization pointed out that managers cannot be members of the FAC, although they may attend meetings.
“I and the artists I represent both agree that this issue is the key challenge facing our industry and that the longer we dither about the rights and wrongs of taking punitive action against those who steal our livelihoods the worse the situation will get,” he wrote to Lord Mandelson, advocating a “zero tolerance approach” to file-sharing “before we don’t have an industry left to defend.”
He added: “The recent argument put forward by the Featured Artists Coalition for example, in response to the government’s recent report on illegal file-sharing, that ‘the stick is now in danger of being way out of proportion to the carrot,’ fails to recognize the fact that ‘carrot’ approach has failed miserably!
“There has also been a point of view advanced that illegal file sharing is good for the marketing and promotion of music. There is some truth in that but the benefits of any positive promotion gained through illegal distribution are, in my opinion, far outweighed by the damage caused to the future income of the creators of and investors in that music.”
U.K. pop artist Lily Allen criticised FAC members Ed O’Brien of Radiohead and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd for their rejection of Mandelson’s proposals. The FAC clarified its position by stating that it is generally opposed to illegal file-sharing, but recognizes promotional benefits for some artists and is concerned at the government’s potential solution of suspending music fans’ Internet accounts.
O’Brien has since told the BBC World Service that he agrees with Lily Allen’s view that smaller artists suffer from file-sharing, though stressed his preference for education over technical sanctions.
Allen set up a blog to gather artists’ views, and she received supportive messages from Mark Ronson, Gary Barlow of Take That and James Blunt. However, via Twitter she has announced that the blog has shut because “the abuse was getting too much,” although she confidently announced that “my job [is] done” after the FAC organized its urgent meeting.
Lord Mandelson and culture secretary were attending the performing arts and technology BRIT School in south London today. “It’s vital for jobs and growth that Britain’s world-renowned creative industries are given a chance to flourish,” said Mandelson. “That’s why I welcome the current debate on digital piracy, including views put forward by the music and film industries, consumer groups, unions, ISPs and by recording artists themselves.
“Downloading somebody’s work without paying for it – whether it be music, film or computer games – is not a victimless act. It poses a genuine threat to our creative industries and to the livelihoods of talented, hard-working people striving to get a foothold in them.”