Composers discussed topical issues of the academic music market in the digital age at the second online meeting of the Creative Global Talks


On July 23, the second online issue of the Creative Global Talks series was held, which was dedicated to the problems of composers and other players of the music industry in the era of total digitalization. At the discussion platform, organized and inspired by the Confederation of Rightholders’ Societies of Europe and Asia (CRSEA), eminent composers and experts in the field of intellectual property discussed how academic musicians, performers and authors can keep up with the times and efficiently capitalize their creativity using modern digital platforms and marketing tools.

According to InterMedia agency, in 2019, the revenues from commercial activities in the field of culture amounted to more than 1887.9 billion rubles, of which 30% (about 550 billion rubles) were accounted for by the entertainment and media industries. As a result of the pandemic, these segments were among the most affected – the collapse of income driven by prolonged self-isolation, the cancellation of offline events and the overall economic downturn in the country. During the discussion, the experts came to the conclusion that the cornerstone of joint work on the restoration and further development of the music industry should be focused on the protection of authors rights in the Internet. With this regard, the proposal came to collect specific cases and suggestions of industry representatives, to create an initiative group and to establish constant interaction between creative associations of the post-Soviet space. This work will help to analyze the situation in general, as well as make decisions on subsequent legislative and other initiatives, depending on the specific weak points of the music market.

During the discussion, the participants outlined two main problems that classical music composers and performers face in the modern realities – insufficient legislative framework in the field of creative industries and the lack of an accessible digital infrastructure for composers and performers of academic music. According to the moderator of the discussion, Eugene Safronov, editor-in-chief of InterMedia communication holding, a large part of the legal terminology is outdated, which is why there is no certainty in the laws regarding certain categories of activity.

“Many people are actively employed in the music industry de facto, but they do not exist from legal point of view. The wording of current codes of economic activity are so vague that their interpretation often differs significantly among market participants. For example, the authorities consider state theaters and circuses as entertainment industries, but concert organizers think otherwise. It turns out that they fall out of the scope of the law. The same situation is with composers – this profession is not in included in the professional register, so it will be difficult to organize an association to protect their interests,” Mr. Safronov explained.

Contrary to the problematic Law on Culture, the regulation of intellectual property in Russia is quite developed and flexible, according to Roman Lukyanov, managing partner of Semenov&Pevzner: “Most of the terminology related to the Internet was introduced to the 4th part of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation in accordance with the Treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). We also have separate provisions that describe the capabilities of the author and rightholder in the online environment.”

The expert added that the main barrier to the development of the industry can be considered as a low awareness of authors about their rights and their weak representation in the digital ecosystem of intellectual property management: “Now there is a transition period, era of changes, and it turns out that the digital sphere is something like a space, where unscrupulous players try to sell and buy parcels on the moon.”

The lack of clear regulation and insufficient representation of the interests of academic musicians in the digital environment do have a very negative impact on their income. “I have albums available on several major online platforms, but I don’t make any profit from it. Due to legislative gaps, RAO cannot deal with payments “from digit”, and so far we can only rejoice at the success of our Western colleagues. For example, I am also a member of the French author society SACEM, which often proudly reports on the constant increase in the share of digital revenues – including Netflix. I don’t see such positive stories in Russia yet,” Russian composer Ivan Burlyaev complained.

Chairman of the Eurasian Council of Composers Andrey Baturin expressed hope that RAO will cope with legislative and other difficulties, and Russian authors, along with their European colleagues, will start receiving remuneration from the digital use of content: “Many of my works – films and music – are registered with the Ministry of culture of Spain, in the authors’ society. “We need to solve this problem according to the law, work with the authorities at the legislative level and form an agenda that will allow us to monetize our creativity in our country.”

The problem of digital collection for authors is quite old, and it is often discussed at various international conferences, added Alexander Klevitskiy, Director General of the Russian Music Union, composer, honored artist of the Russian Federation, artistic Director and chief conductor of the Academic Grand Concert Orchestra: “The pandemic has clearly shown that authors are one of the most disadvantaged categories of people. Concert halls were closed, live performance revenue was suspended, and most online performances were free of charge. This is great from the point of view of promoting culture, but we must also think about how we can capitalize our intellectual work using digital technologies. Publishing houses that help authors sell their works and earn money from them should also play a big role here. I would like them to see not only the exploitation of content, but also more active promotion of creativity.”

According to Irina Gerasimova, honored worker of culture of the Russian Federation, General Director of the Russian State Music TV and Radio Center and radio Orpheus, radio and online platforms should work together to promote composers more effectively and monetize their work: “There is of course a sort of competition between radio and digital services, but we are not rivals. People join evening or morning programs when they want to relax and enjoy ready-made content, rather than choosing a playlist themselves. At the same time, we try to put on the air not only your favorite and well-known songs, but also to promote young talents. To do this, we record new music, hold songwriting competitions, and broadcast all this content in separate projects. In this sense, we really need a digital platform, because it can host much more of this kind of music than we can afford in our format broadcast.”

The Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian Society of Authors, Performers and other Rightholders (BOAIP) Sergey Kukhto also called for removing the burden of legal support and promotion of their works from authors and other musicians: “Collective rights management societies should be more active in protecting the interests of authors, so as not to harden their life with the functions of a lawyer, economist, accountant, marketer, and so on. We support any digital solutions and national registries created for this purpose. On the territory of the former Soviet Union, the CRSEA can become an excellent base for such infrastructure, and Russia will serve as a technological driver. Now we are sorely lacking creative unity.”

Representatives of the music market of Armenia and Kazakhstan also recognized the technological lag behind Russia. Yervand Yerznkyan, composer, conductor, honored artist of the Republic of Armenia, President of the Armavtor’s Authors’ Council, stressed that ”at the moment, on the one hand, there are significant legislative gaps in the country, and on the other hand, there are no full – fledged tools for the transition to “digit”.

The authors also from Kazakhstan face also the similar problems. “Technologically, we are far behind everyone else, especially in terms of the intellectual property protection. Digitalization in our country means only the transition of the analogue to digital in terms of the economy, health, and education. Music is not included here,” said Balnur Kydyrbek, composer, Chairman of the Kazakhstan Authors’ Society, Chairman of the Union of Composers of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Russia already has a technological base for creating a well-developed music market infrastructure. Certain services are being implemented in the Eurasian region within the framework of cooperation with CRSEA – a FONMIX player for legal background audio and video for commercial places and a software complex solution Hypergraph, that provides automated reports on the use of content.

Despite this, Russia still lacks niche services for classical, ethnic and other genres of music – such as IDAGIO or Primephonic”, said Alexander Borovkov, Director of development at National Digital Aggregator LLC.

Summing up the meeting, co-moderator, Deputy Secretary General of CRSEA Irina Yakovleva concluded that the Confederation is ready to organize such online and offline discussions among representatives of the music community: “At the level of the Eurasian region we are in close contact with many authors’ societies of the former Soviet republics and we are ready to provide the support in legislative, educational and communication aspects , to resolve various pressing issues raised by the creative community.”