October was a busy month for the musicians and activists of the Content Creators Coalition. The group (previously profiled in the October issue) held a fundraiser concert, a rally and a protest march, all in the name of standing up for artists’ rights in the digital domain. The weekend’s activities had a few main goals: first, to build support for the organization, and second, to raise awareness among musicians and supporters of some of the biggest problems threatening the livelihoods of artists and recording musicians.
Things started off on Saturday evening with a benefit concert at Roulette, a theatre and event space in downtown Brooklyn. The concert featured several prominent jazz and avant-garde musicians, including saxophonists Steve Wilson and John Zorn, guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist Henry Grimes. Between performers, speakers from the CCC outlined the group’s mission of organizing musicians to stand up for their own economic survival and how artists are being exploited by various digital media outlets.
Sunday’s activities started with a concert/rally that was free to the public and aimed to raise people’s spirits in support of artists’ rights. The event took place at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village, and featured sets from Marcus Rojas’ Brass Ensemble, Wesley Stace, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori (from the band Cibo Matto), and closed with a performance from Rosanne Cash, who is both a member of Local 802 and a board member of the Content Creators Coalition.
Throughout the afternoon, CCC supporters were treated to some great music, heard some impassioned speeches, and made protest signs for the march later in the day. Participants at the rally were also invited to take part in a CCC effort to hijack Spotify’s current Twitter campaign (using the hashtag #thatsongwhen) to point out how little artists make from the popular streaming service.
As the concert wound down, CCC supporters got ready to hit the streets. Led by Local 802 member Kenny Wollesen’s Himalayas marching band, the assembled group headed out from the Village to march to Google’s NYC headquarters on Eighth Ave.
Google was targeted for several reasons. First, the company profits from ad revenue from illegal music download sites. Second, YouTube (which is owned by Google), generates lots of revenue from music content, but doesn’t share that money equitably with the artists themselves. Finally, Google has been unwilling to implement strict “takedown” policies of content that an artist requests be removed from YouTube. Google is being called on to support artists’ rights and be good stewards of the digital marketplace.
The musicians created some loud, joyful, and inspired music, and sent a loud and clear message to Google that it has a responsibility to ensure that the artists who create the content that fuels the internet deserve fair treatment.
Reflecting on the success of the concert, rally and protest march, CCC Executive Director Jeff Boxer said, “I think this weekend’s events reflect how fast the CCC is growing, and its wide appeal across different musical genres and types of creators.”
Musicians and artists are speaking out more and more, says Boxer. “A couple of years ago, it didn’t seem like most musicians were willing to stand up on these issues, but now people seem open and really ready to work.” Musicians’ attitudes on the issue of digital exploitation have changed. As Boxer puts it, “We’ve gone from aggravation to action.”