HITS Daily Double


A bill that would repeal a 1987 amendment to California’s “Seven-Year Statute” for musicians is heading to the State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee after a daylong hearing in which opponents poked holes in its viability in the modern music industry.

The California Music Coalition called AB 983 a “flawed proposal” that “creates unfairness in ways that fall squarely in the jurisdiction and expertise of the [Judiciary] Committee.” More than 20 record labels make up the California Music Coalition, which opposes proposals that would dictate the terms of record contracts by statute.

“We appreciate Sen. [John] Laird’s observation that there remain ‘lots of unresolved issues in the midst of this’ and the recognition by Chairman [Dave] Cortese as well as Sen. Laird that the bill ‘still needs a lot more work’ to prevent a reverse wealth transfer away from developing and working artists to the wealthiest and most successful,” the coalition said in a statement. “Detailed testimony at the Labor Committee today from a top music-industry executive and experienced economic expert established beyond doubt that AB 983 would hurt working artists in California and make it harder for new acts to get signed.”

The bill would create a path for a recording artist to walk away from a contract with option periods that extend more than 12 months after an initial commercial release of music. Opponents of the bill argue that, if passed, the only artists who would benefit would be major stars and that record companies would be reluctant to invest in A&R for new acts.

One insider noted that examples of prohibitive contracts presented to the committee are old or inapplicable and do not take into account the modern, streaming-based business, which produces advances and royalty rates higher than in the CD era with shorter terms.

“The bill diminishes the ability of an artist to choose to go DIY, indie or sign with a major label with the hopes of becoming a star,” one industry source said. “All the money at the labels would go to the top to keep the stars from leaving.”

The Judiciary Committee will hear arguments on Tuesday (6/28) that will require them to make a judgment on whether to move any or all of the bill forward.