On June 5th, 1998 the American Alliance of Composer Organizations unanimously adopted its Mission Statement and a Declaration. It is so noted in the minutes.
Acting Secretary, AACO
Formed in 1997, the AACO has adopted a policy of disseminating educational information rather than promoting specific advocacy, thereby respecting the autonomy of its member groups and associates.
In addition to sponsoring educational events, the AACO promotes an increased awareness of all industry-related issues.
An open letter to:-
Marilyn Bergman and Frances Preston Presidents of ASCAP and BMI New York NY April 29 1998Dear Marilyn and Frances
Having returned yesterday from Los Angeles I was moved to write to you about the Seminar given by Jean Lou Tournier of the French collection society SACEM at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood on Saturday last.
SACEM was represented not only by JLT but also by Claude Guillard (Head of Distributions, Samantha Messica, Head of Member Relations and Angelica Schurer, their legal representative. The presentation was excellent and given with all the charm and aplomb one expects from the French in general and Jean Lou in particular. The team fully explained SACEM's collection and distribution methods and were happy to answer all questions on every aspect of their procedures, splits, weightings, pensions etc. In fact anything American writers present wanted to know was given to them in the spirit of what appeared to be complete transparency.
This follows a similarily informative Seminar given by the CEO of Britian's PERFORMING RIGHTS SOCIETY, John Hutchinson last year and precedes another at which the German society GEMA will willingly place itself under the Californian microscope.
These seminars have all been organised by the AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF COMPOSER ORGANIZATIONS (AACO) in an attempt to educate American writers as to the global aspects of their profession, which, in the light of the modern technology, is a fine and laudable thing to do. We at THE BRITISH ACADEMY OF SONGWRITERS, COMPOSERS AND AUTHORS (BASCA) and the British ALLIANCE OF COMPOSER ORGANISATIONS (ACO) totally support their efforts and will help them in any way we can.
I ought to explain that the ACO is an umbrella group of the main writer's Guilds in the UK and we have amongst our members most of the prominent writers in all Genres of music in our country.
My feeling is that, in light of the level of information flowing across the Atlantic from European composer groups and Collection Societies, the differences in culture and commercial practice which divide the USA from Europe are being extensively examined, causing a new wave of educated concern and opinion to emerge amongst a growing number of American composers.
I see a difficult and acrimonious situation developing unless the American PRO's meet this challenge with a radical re-think of their member relations. It seems from anecdotal evidence that many American composers are less than enthusiastic about their relationships with their local PRO's and will therefore consider very seriously the advantages offered by multi-society membership.
Everyone is aware of the geographical and logistical problems peculiar to the collection of US performance income but such things do not excuse inequitable allocation of fees and inadequate information being made available to the membership about the way in which their own society does its business.
If collective administration is to survive the digital age (as a writer I believe that it should), our collection societies must become completely transparent and accountable to their members. Writers have only their copyrights to rely on and whilst it may be an unfashionably emotional argument, they want them looked after correctly and they want to be pair for the plays they achieve. From what I am told this simple requirement is just not available in the USA.
Distributions from American PRO's appear to be arbitrary and discriminatory, in short, it's all a bit of a lottery. Well it just wont do anymore. That was yesterdays collection society. Composers are waking up thanks to the efforts of people like the AACO and they realise that they have every right to a collection system as efficient as the one's they are seeing in Europe.
Over here in the UK we are making it our business to encourage writers everywhere to be alive to the threats and opportunities offered by the digital age. They are learning fast and, quite rightly, demanding accurate and cheap stewardship of the royalty income, whether it is from the publisher or collection societies. For the first time in the history of the music industry there are alternatives emerging which enable creators to bypass traditional methods of collection. There is therefore likely to be a major migration from any mechanical or performance collection organisation which is not accurately delivering the goods to its members. Look over your shoulders and you will see a whole new generation of writers who have absolutely no interest in the old society procedures explained in old society doubletalk. They simply want what is right and what is fair. If you can't deliver that, they will surely seek out someone who can.
These are my thoughts ladies. As might be said in the East end of London
"You've been rumbled " (*)
I would start listening to your rank-and-file members if I were you.
Chairman- The British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors. Co_Chairman- The Alliance of Composer Organisations.
LH Note (*) Rumbled means... caught out.
It must be pointed out that ASCAP & BMI have refused to attend any AACO seminar where they would have to be confronted by the membership. This also true of SESAC.
Democratic and Independant.