新博体育nb88:Welsh-language musicians strike over 'unfair royalties'
Teachers, health workers, even ice-cream makers and soap manufacturers have been out on strike in recent months. Now Welsh-language musicians are to take industrial action and metaphorically down microphones and guitars in protest at how they are being treated in post credit-crunch Britain.
For three days from Monday, as many 450 musicians and composers, folk singers, pop stars and hip-hop artists are demanding that the Welsh-language station BBC Cymru does not play their work.
The musicians argue they are not receiving fair royalties and claim some are being driven out of the business or have to take other jobs to make ends meet.
It will present difficulties for , which plays only Welsh-language music between 8.30am and 8pm. But the Welsh Music Publishers and Composers Alliance, which is taking the action, says its members have no choice. The alliance claims that after a change in the way their royalties are calculated, a three-minute song played on the station now earns its members £5.75. A song on Radio Wales, the English-language station, would bring in almost £150.
Among those supporting the action is , a pioneer of Welsh-language pop in the seventies and one of its biggest stars. Fôn said he found it comfortable and proper to work in his native tongue, "but over the last five years there has been a drastic cut in royalties to the point where it's hard to see how to keep going".
At this time of year Fôn said he used to look forward to a cheque of between £10,000 and £18,000. This December the payment was about £700.
He and his band were planning to release an album in the new year. "But we're having a rethink," he said. "We'd perhaps have to go back to recording in someone's bedroom, its like going back and starting all over again."
Fôn believes the ought to do more to make sure Welsh artists get a fair return from the royalty collector PRS for Music. "Music is one of the ways the language is kept alive," he said. "This situation is helping kill it."
Deian ap Rhisiart, dubbed the Welsh Eminem, agrees. He has collaborated with global Welsh stars like the Super Furry Animals' (who has given his support to the strike) but is scaling back his output partly because of the "pathetic" royalties. "It is becoming harder to make a living. You think twice before going into the studio if you know you are going to struggle to get your money back."
Sain Records, one of the leading Welsh record companies, has asked BBC Cymru not to play current releases or anything from its archive of about 15,000 tracks.
Dafydd Roberts, chief executive of Sain, claimed the royalties paid on the station damaged the industry in and demeaned the music. "It is certain to lead to a significant reduction in the production of new Welsh musical works," he said. The performing rights system was geared towards Anglo-American music rather than music played and listened to by a "minority".
The BBC is disappointed. It makes a blanket payment to PRS for Music for all the material it uses across its services. The PRS then works out how much members, including the Welsh musicians, receive.
"Royalty payment levels are set by the PRS," a spokeswoman said. "However, both BBC Cymru Wales and the BBC centrally have done everything within their needs to facilitate a solution."
The BBC said it would "amend" its output on Monday to respect the wishes of the musicians. "However, this situation cannot be maintained for three days," said the spokeswoman.
"To protect the interests of its listeners Radio Cymru will play Welsh language music as usual on the Tuesday and on Wednesday. This is not an official strike and, as the music has been licensed to the BBC by PRS, there is no legal impediment to the playing of the music in question by Radio Cymru."
PRS for Music accepted that payments to many Welsh language musicians had declined. Mark Lawrence, the director of membership, said: "Rates paid for radio station play and also for use in businesses around the country are reviewed constantly, based on audience, reach and sampling work our teams do."
The basic rate for a song on Radio Cymru is 59p a minutes, and 95p on Radio Wales. An additional element for plays in businesses takes the payments up to about £5.75 for Radio Cymru but almost £150 for Radio Wales. The basic rate on Radio 2 is about £22 a minute.
Lawrence said: " regrets that some of our members in Wales are taking this action but will continue our dialogue with all in the Welsh music community."
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