Have you ever learned a new word or term and then seen it everywhere? Has that happened to you? It has a name and everything. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
I had my own version of this in 2015 when I learned about the Value Gap – “the significant disparity between the value of creative content being consumed and the revenues that are returned to the creators.”
Until that point I had been working harder and harder and not seeing the financial rewards that would have, twenty years earlier, matched my artistic accomplishments. I had been plagued by self-doubt and shame that despite my on paper success, I was struggling.
It was only when I understood that the framework was broken that I could get over my personal embarrassment and fear of not being good enough and start looking for solutions. I heard the term Value Gap everywhere – in the US during the USMCA talks, and in the EU as the Copyright Directive was being negotiated. I used it everywhere – I used it when comparing notes with other musicians who were also affected, as well as with people in other sectors like journalism, publishing and even ridesharing – and with politicians who needed to hear the real facts about our lives after the digital revolution. Over the past three years since I learned the term and its meaning, I have witnessed the Value Gap becoming not only a well-understood and acknowledged problem, but also being recognized as a problem that can be corrected with urgently implemented, industry-wide agreed-upon solutions.
Most recently, we saw this acknowledgement in Canada, during our Copyright Review.
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage heard testimony from 115 witnesses over the course of 19 meetings between May 22nd and December 6th 2018, and received 75 written submissions from a variety of stakeholders. They produced a document of their findings with recommended courses of action, called Shifting Paradigms. The first subheading of the report is about the Value Gap. This is a big win for all involved – in particular, the artists who came forward to tell their personal stories of how the broken copyright framework impacts their livelihood and ability to create. The Committee placed significant value on artists’ lived experiences, citing creators’ testimony throughout the report.
Artists and creative industry representatives alike told the government about our shared problem: overly broad safe harbour provisions that effectively force music creators to subsidize Big Tech platforms. This report not only agrees with us and our industry colleagues, but it offers concrete solutions. I am very proud to be among the voices of artists who have been central to validating the Value Gap and illuminating its detrimental effects.
Last year at Midem, I spoke about the grassroots power of artist advocacy. I am very honoured to be returning to Midem this year to join a discussion on Addressing the Value Gap, with clear examples of how artist advocacy can play a role. The event will examine the developing recognition of the Value Gap and why policymakers should act with a sense of urgency to address it. I believe artists are at the core of this message and I will outline how fellow creators can help establish a sustainable and functioning marketplace. I’ll also describe my own path to advocacy which really began with merely learning a term.
Miranda Mulholland is a musician, President of Roaring Girl Records, music festival founder, and Co-Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council. She will be speaking at Midem on Wednesday, June 5th, at the Addressing the Value Gap event, presented by Music Canada and the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers (IAEL).