Music Industry Coalition Fighting Contract Limits


Record labels and music industry businesses banded together Tuesday to fight proposed state legislation that would limit the duration of recording contracts.

Calling itself the California Music Coalition, the group includes the major record labels and their affiliates, independent labels and several small businesses ranging from CD pressers and video producers to Diva Limousines of Hollywood.

The group is trying to defeat a bill by state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City) that would repeal a 15-year-old provision in the state Labor Code that exempts record labels from a seven-year limitation on personal service contracts. The group claims the measure would allow recording artists to walk away from their contracts and would drive jobs out of California because it would become the only state with such contract limitations. The group also contends that small businesses with limited capital would be hurt most--and fewer new artists would get signed to contracts.


“It’s all a matter of risks and rewards,” said Miles Copeland, owner of Sherman Oaks-based label Ark 21 Records, which has a distribution deal with Universal. “If you take away the rewards, the risks go up and fewer acts get signed and the deals will be worse for those artists.”

The coalition announced itself on the eve of the Grammy Awards and hours before Don Henley and other recording artists held benefit concerts to raise funds in their fight against the record industry.

Henley said the coalition was a misguided effort by the major record labels to portray the fight as one of big successful music stars versus independent labels and other small businesses.

“We’re primarily interested in the practices of the major labels,” Henley said. “The record industry was doing just fine in California for many decades prior to 1987 when they got the exemption. Artists are not going to take advantage of a record label and then sit on their hands. An artist needs to work; an artist wants to work.”