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I'd like to know how it is possible that I only found out about this through SOCAN on September 5th, too late for any of the Town Hall meetings. And music is my full-time work.
I am an Aboriginal Canadian independent artist and single mother. My income is derived solely from my self-employment as a musician. I would not be able to afford to be fully self-employed if I did not live in subsidized housing, and yet I work about 80–100 hours a week to bring Aboriginal cultural awareness and quality Aboriginal Canadian music to people worldwide through the music I create and perform.
My royalties are such a tiny portion of my revenue that it's a disgrace. Even paying over $2,000 for radio promotion for an album only resulted in less than $300 in royalties over 5 years. It's just nowhere near balanced. I wonder how many people realize that without a record label's support, the expenses nearly always outweigh the income of an artist — especially if your music is culturally oriented — and in a country that claims to value our culture, it should be the opposite.
I wonder why the work I do as a music artist is so lowly valued in my own country — in many more ways than copyright. It costs me thousands of dollars just to create my music, let alone get it out there and create an awareness of it. And contrary to popular belief, touring as an unsigned artist is not usually a form of income. It's a form of marketing that costs large amounts of money and you're lucky if you break even. Rarely is an income made from touring if you are an independent artist.
There needs to be more effective public education about copyright and royalties. Many people who buy CDs from me see no problem with getting one copy and then burning copies for their friends. Clearly the general public does not understand the huge costs involved in creating a CD. They don't seem to see the connection between the music and an artist's hard work and thousands of dollars spent to create, produce, record, disseminate and promote it.
In a country that claims to support culture and art, I should not be asked so many times at gigs "What do you do for a living?" People seem to think it's acceptable that we are "starving artists" but they still would rather spend their money on beer and try to get the music for free. Why? I believe they need education about this issue.
Royalties are a form of earned revenue for my work. Because I am unsigned and my music is usually classified as Aboriginal, my music only gets airplay on college, university or independent Internet radio stations, and CBC. By the time I spend what I need to, to get any airplay at all, the royalties I get back are like the head of a pin in comparison.
We need a system that works. I keep hearing that Canada values culture and art but in reality, the culture and art being supported and promoted are not at the independent, unsigned level — because we can't afford the publicity or representation to speak/promote on our behalf. Yes, I am aware of the grants available — I am also aware that grants are hard to get because of the vast competition.
Whatever the decisions made for the new legislation, the people of Canada (consumers) need to be educated, particularly about:
I really don't think DRM in its present form, or jailing consumers for file sharing, are the answer. I just think the public needs to be made aware that by taking our music (or other work), they are taking away the artist's ability to survive.
The general public also needs to be made aware that copyright law is not only addressing the rights of the creators they see in the media… that the vast majority of Canadian Creators are in fact independent but without representation or a high enough income to promote our work through mainstream media — and the outdated copyright laws combined with the public's idea that they should have our creations for free contribute to the reason why.
And also, yes, College and University Radio needs more funding to enable them to pay us artists more royalties. I hope our government will look at existing copyright reform models that are working well, and converse more directly with Canadian Creators.
Please keep me informed, as I still can't believe I only found out about this a day ago.
Thank You, Brenda