The Canadian Recording Industry Association's submission to the CRTC's Commercial Radio Review may go down as one of its biggest blunders. Earlier coverage of its submission focused on the Pollara report (here and here) that contradicts many of CRIA's claims regarding file sharing and consumer music purchasing habits. Earlier today, there was even more dramatic fallout. Six major Canadian independent music labels – Anthem, Acquarius, The Children's Group, Linus Entertainment, Nettwerk, and True North Records – all pulled out of CRIA, citing differences with the CRTC submission.
The Canadian labels do not disguise their disagreement with the association that purports to represent the Canadian music industry. Choice quotes from the letter, which was copied to the CRTC, Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda, and senior Heritage officials, include:
"it has become increasingly clear over the past few months that CRIA's position on several important music industry issues are not aligned with our best interests as independent recording companies" and "we do not feel that we can remain members [of CRIA] given CRIA's decision to advocate solely on behalf of the four major foreign multi-national labels."
The independent labels note that if CRIA's proposals are implemented, they "would have a material negative effect on the future growth of Canadian independent music." The short term consequence of this is that the labels want CRIA to clarify to the CRTC those artists that are produced by independent labels yet identified as CRIA artists and calculated in CRIA market share.
The longer term consequences are even more important. CRIA is governed by a five member board consisting of President Graham Henderson and representatives from the four major foreign labels. As CRIA increasingly battles artists and collectives on private copying as well as Canadian recording labels on approaches to promote Canadian music, it will become increasingly clear that CRIA does not speak for the Canadian music industry. It is time for policy makers and government leaders to see CRIA for what it is – a copyright lobby group that represents the interests of foreign corporations. The impact of the CRTC submission will linger long after the radio review hearings conclude next month.
Update: The Children's Group, one of the six labels to resign from CRIA, provides some additional commentary from company president Michelle Henderson.