Music Industry News Network [04-16-2004]

Australian Record Industry Association CEO Called To Resign

Press Release For Immediate Release April 16, 2004

Revelations of Alleged CD Freeloading Need Immediate Investigation

Music business veteran and industry analyst Phil Tripp today called for either the resignation of Australian Record Industry Association CEO Stephen Peach or his suspension while Australian record companies and publishers audit his reported 'CD Freeloading' of pages of titles with multiple copies as printed in the Spike Column of the Sydney Morning Herald today.

"Former longtime ARIA/PPCA PR consultant Marcella McAdam--an unimpeachable music professional with several years dedicated service to ARIA--revealed what many of us in the industry suspected." states 30 year veteran Tripp. "While organisations like ARIA and major record companies like to play the robbed artist and songwriter card when lobbying government over supposed losses by consumers downloading music off the Internet, it will be interesting if they take action against their own for 'freeloading' mass quantities of CDs for which artists and songwriters do not get paid and that are supposed to be used solely for 'promotional purposes--usually restricted to media and business samples."

In a radio interview with national broadcaster Triple J a little over a week ago, Peach had claimed that his and ARIA's staff's free CDs were 'promotional' and that the artists and songwriters were paid royalties from promo CDs, stating, "I mean, the industry has the idea of promotional CDs. These are all promotional CDs or they're CDs in respect of which, as far as I'm aware, royalties are paid to artists." The full transcript is available at Rocknerd site

This is not true, Tripp states, and Peach, as a longtime intellectual property attorney and ARIA head for over 18 months should know--especially since standard industry contracts deny royalties for promotional copies to artists. And the ARIA/AMCOS five year agreement (which is up for renewal in June and which Peach is negotiating) also denies songwriters royalties to an agreed promos formula.

"If Peach claims to be unaware of these two industry practices, he should not be leading the industry organisation that is fighting for artists' and music creators' rights as he stated in a recent ARIA release." Tripp adds. "He would appear to be as unaware of industry practices as he seems to be of the numbers of his own acquisitions of music at the expense of his clients."

Peach made this official ARIA statement last month: "The 'free ride' simply can't continue indefinitely at the expense of the owners and creators of the music," the organization said, in a statement attributed to Stephen Peach, chief executive officer of ARIA." From ARIA News site March 28 2004

The confirmation from his own PR consultant for 18 months--that Peach has ordered massive quantities "A4 pages", "sometimes two or three of each title"--contrasted with his own statements to national media and should spur the ARIA Board of Directors to take action. It should start with a 'standard industry audit'.

"The action I suggest is the same that any other respectable industry association would pursue if this issue came up in the media. That is to question staff and former staff as to the amounts of CDs ordered by executives and consultants (including lobbyists), look into other areas of freebies such as requested concert tickets, merchandise and other comped perks, and make those responsible for abuse subject to dismissal." Tripp suggests. "If the Board refuses to investigate this matter immediately, establish a clear policy of not abusing artists and songwriter royalty compensation by tightening their own corporate belts and eliminating dubious glomming of promotional music by non-entitled staff, then it deserves not to be taken seriously by government, by the public and the industry." Tripp affirms.

"In our industry, the abuse of free CDs being used as a form of 'trading cards' or 'musical favours' between staff at record companies coupled with the massive number of promotional copies of CDs that end up in used CD stores sold by media and industry sources is a long-running travesty which in the end, the artists pay for from denied income. It's time the industry turn its attention to cleaning house if it is to be taken seriously in the battle against free music."

Phil Tripp is publisher of the AustralAsian Music Industry Directory, CEO of IMMEDIA!-- a music business information and conference company--and has been an artist manager, record company owner and music business journalist in his 23 years in Australia.

The article that appeared today is below.

ARIA boss faces music

Just how big is the free CD collection of the ARIA CEO and anti-music theft lobbyist, Stephen Peach? Peach told Triple J on April 2 that he personally had received "a few, 10 maybe" in the last three months (Spike, Monday). He's not a music critic, programmer or publicist, but he needs to be au fait with the scene to represent Australian music, an ARIA spokesman told Spike.

But we called Peach's former publicist at ARIA, Marcella McAdam, who furnished more detail on his habits. During her 18 months under his reign, Peach was in the habit of handwriting lists of titles he wanted and getting staff to source them from the record companies, she said - sometimes from back catalogues and sometimes two or three of the same title.

"I sighted several A4 pages of titles and other employees had seen other lists as well. It wasn't the reason I left, but it was one of them. I thought ARIA, as the body lobbying government [for artists' rights] should be showing more . . . leadership," McAdam said.

"Freeloading versus free downloading - to me it's the same. You're getting the product for free. It's not going to stop until the record companies start saying no."

While Peach, who has not returned our calls for five days, didn't call back yesterday, the Sony CEO, Denis Handlin, said: "Stephen has never presented any lists or the like to us."


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