Electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre will deliver a keynote at the World Copyright Summit on Wednesday June 8 in Brussels. In this keynote discussion, the French artist will offer his views on the challenges faced by creators in the digital age.
Why did you accept CISAC’s invitation to take part in the 2011 World Copyright Summit?
Jean-Michel Jarre: For an artist like me, who has always been looking for new boundaries, the digital world has been a source of constant experimentation. It has provided me with the tools to create my music and also the structure for the concert performances. But for the author and the composer that I also am, it can be a source of great concern. If my works have the potential to be seen and listened to by an even greater audience than before, the problem we face as creators is the way that we are compensated for the use of our works. By being present at the World Copyright Summit, I want to show my enthusiasm and my optimism regarding the challenges we face with the new digital world; and also bear witness of the necessity to respect the rights of creators as a necessary condition for the renewal and financing of creation.
What are the main challenges facing creators in the new digital eco-system?
Jean-Michel Jarre: I would say that the biggest challenge is finding the right balance between the ubiquity of the availability of creative works and the respect of creators’ rights, hand in hand with compensation. I do not have ready-made answers. I want my music to travel as widely as possible. I also want to make sure that my music, alongside that of my peers, is not used to enrich venture capital firms who are backing digital services that have business models based on the premises that they do not pay for the content that they are using. In my view, and in the view of many creators, this is unfair. I also think that the system has been far too lenient towards access providers who have been selling broadband subscriptions based on the promise that the end user would have access to all the music in the world. I think it is about time they chip in and give back to the people who have allowed them to make their subscriptions attractive.
Q: What would be, according to you, the role of collective management organisations in this new eco-system?
Jean-Michel Jarre: In case you have not noticed, this digital world has become increasingly complex, with hundreds of new players who, when they are properly licensed, pay authors’ societies very small amounts from millions of transactions. I am surprised by the rather small amounts I get paid in return for extensive plays on these new services and furthermore that I value the excellent service offered to me by Sacem. I would never be able to chase these rights if I were on my own, I couldn’t control the use of my music on radio or TV. I recently played concerts in Australia and I have to rely on the local society there to collect on my behalf the rights I am owed for the use of my music in the country. I need authors’ societies to act on my behalf, and now more than ever before. And I can affirm that my author’s society constitutes the best guarantee for my economic independence and my freedom of creation.