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MJ Cole pens opens letter to major labels calling to end free artist labour

The letter directly calls out labels and publishers including Universal, Sony, and Warner

  • 25 April 2024
MJ Cole pens opens letter to major labels calling to end free artist labour

British producer MJ Cole has penned an open letter to major labels and publishers calling to end free artist labour, with direct nods to UMG, Sony, Warner, and more.

The letter was published on Sunday, April 21, on social media, asking artists to “call time out on working for free” in the music industry. “As music creators, our core mission is simple: to help artists attain their greatest creative and commercial potential,” the letter reads.

“To achieve these goals, we employ our expertise and passion to create music, often in partnership with major labels and publishers around the world. Partners who, you would hope, take seriously their responsibilities to respect and fairly compensate us.”

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The letter directly calls out some of the biggest labels and publishers, including Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony, and Warner, asking them to “live up to” their responsibilities in the music industry.

It goes on to claim that these labels have gained monumental reach through the work of musicians, who are said to be unfairly returned for their labour.

“We have been working to address these issues in the form of a collective of music creators,” the letter reads, adding that this collective will have “transparent and honest” conversations about the state of the industry.

The collective, which is said to host “some of the biggest names in the business”, will also look to protect the rights of musicians and address issues with compensation.

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It also raises concerns over the “barrier of entry” into the industry for young writers and producers, claiming that established artists must now pull their weight in supplying the tools needed for emerging musicians on behalf of major labels.

“These are costs that many, particularly those of lower-income backgrounds, could not bear nor should they. If the status quo remains, it’s likely we will lose the voice of working class, potentially forever,” the letter reads.

The solution requests a “£75 non-recoupable per diem for all music creators who are asked to work with or for any artist signed to a major record company or publisher”.

“This modest per diem is not a luxury and will simply cover personal costs and ensure that creators can, to some degree, afford to develop artists on behalf of these corporations," they explained.

Read the full open letter above.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

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