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Bette Midler, Elvis Costello & More Join New Artist Rights Alliance Council

The Artist Rights Alliance has announced the creation of a 93-artist music council that includes Bette Midler, Elvis Costello and others, and unveiled an Artists' Bill of Rights.

Artist Rights Alliance has announced the creation of a 93-artist music council comprised of several bold-faced names, including Bette Midler, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, T Bone Burnett, Sheryl Crow, Keb’ Mo’ and Steve Earle, The artist-run nonprofit announced the news Friday (June 18), saying the council will “provide perspective and advisory input” to the organization while helping to foster awareness of current issues facing content creators. ARA has been on the front lines of a host of recent issues, including passage of the Music Modernization Act and current efforts to reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The ARA also unveiled its Artists’ Bill of Rights, which outlines the organization’s “fundamental principles and recommendations for today’s music economy and to keep the artistic community aware of their rights as it pertains to their work.” Hot-button topics covered in the document include fair pay from streaming services; copyright law; political participation; curbing industrial-scale piracy; and reining in tech platforms “that unfairly profit from music.”


Additionally, the organization addressed the potential merger between Liberty Media and iHeartMedia with a sharply worded statement claiming the merger “would give Liberty Media an unprecedented stake in the broadcast media world.” And it announced the launch of a new online artists’ forum, which will serve as an educational resource, advocacy platform and meeting space to promote grassroots organizing, among other activities.

“We are so grateful to our Music Council volunteers who will join with us to advocate for our peers in building a more compassionate and enduring music economy,” said ARA board member Rosanne Cash in a statement. “It has never been easy for independent musicians to earn a living, and it’s indescribably harder today in the current global crisis. We must work together to defend today’s hardworking musicians, and to protect the next generation of artists.”

Added ARA board member John McCrea, founder of the band Cake: “Even before the pandemic, the music economy was teetering on the edge. Technology companies prosper, while musicians are paid micro-pennies per stream, not to mention the loss of funds from touring. This crisis has laid bare what a slender reed our fellow musicians were hanging onto and calls upon us to get work building something new and more humane. ARA has always operated on an artist-to-artist model, connecting, engaging, and empowering each other built on the basic truth that no one will fight for you if you aren’t out there fighting for yourself.”


In addition to Cash and McCrea, the ARA’s board of directors includes music manager Thomas Manzi, singer-songwriter Tift Merritt, guitarist Matthew Montfort and label executive and musician Maggie Vail. The organization’s executive director is political strategist and former House of Representatives staffer Ted Kalo.

Founded in 2013, the ARA’s stated mission is to provide “artists and their allies with resources, knowledge, and tools to navigate the complex music business landscape.”