Payment of royalties to performers for audiovisual performances was to the fore at SIPTU’s biggest event of the year. At the SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference held in Cork, October 2017, the Arts, Culture, Print and Media Sector of SIPTU put forward a motion calling for the Beijing Treaty to be ratified. The treaty gives performers moral and economic rights for TV, Film, digital audiovisual media.
In his address to the conference MUI President Seamus Doyle drew attention to lack of recognition symbolised by the customary omission of musicians names on film credits. Even where music is crucial to the film, hundreds or thousands of names may appear, but frequently not the name of even a single musician playing on the soundtrack.
‘..’but musicians are not looking for their names in lights. They are seeing the recognition that will make a difference to their livelihoods. Performers in this most precarious of professions deserve their fair share of the profits.’
He went on to encourage delegates to support not only the treaty, but to enjoy quality live music in Ireland, downloads or sales which benefit the performer, and to become engaged actively in music making.
In seconding the motion MUI Executive member Niamh Parsons gave a moving rendition of the song ‘Joe Hill’, reminding delegates of the power of resilience in organising and campaigning;
‘And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, What they forgot to kill
Went on to organise
Went on to organise’
Film producers through the IFPI oppose the treaty, wishing to retain any royalties proposed by the treaty. Musicians’ union organisations such as FIM and the MUI call for ratification as the only solution which ensures that the protection offered to performers actually provides them with tangible income.
The treaty will come in to effect when ratified by 30 countries. While that target is coming closer, Ireland still needs to play it’s part. The conference delegates voted unanimously to call for the National Executive Council to undertake a campaign to lobby government to ratify the treaty, so as to assist in making this treaty legally binding.
Photo from left to right Graham Macken, Niamh Parsons and Seamus Doyle