Music Artists Coalition backs California law change to extend seven-year rule to music creators

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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Monday, March 22, 2021

The US Music Artists Coalition last week backed proposals to reform the seven-year rule in California employment laws so that recording artists permanently benefit from the principle.

This rule of California state law states that people can cancel personal services contracts after seven years. What this means for record and music publishing deals signed in California has long been debated, given that these music industry deals tend to be production-bound – i.e. number of albums or songs – rather than time.

In terms of recording contracts, a 1980s amendment to the rule has proven significant over the years. He says labels can seek damages if an artist canceling a contract after seven years means they are out of pocket due to their initial investment. Artists and managers argue that – in most cases – this renders this particular protection under California law unnecessary for music creators.

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has now proposed changes to California’s Labor Code – dubbed the FAIR Act – that would ensure recording artists could benefit from the seven-year rule. It would also increase the rights of actors who are under exclusive agreements with state production studios.

Speaking on behalf of the MAC, veteran artist manager Irving Azoff said last week, “Streaming has been an unprecedented boon for record labels, but not for artists. It’s unfair that the only Californians excluded from the protection of the seven-year law are recording artists. We ask our record label partners and members of the California legislature to join us in supporting this important initiative. We must protect artists and modernize this archaic law”.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez added, “The entertainment industry landscape has changed dramatically, but corporations still benefit from outdated laws that allow them to exert overwhelming control over performers. No worker should ever be bound by an unreasonable contract that restricts them from making decisions about their own livelihood. It’s time to change the law to reflect a new reality for creators. I introduced the FAIR Act to simply ensure artists are allowed to practice their craft freely and pursue a career doing what they love.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT: Coalition of Musical Artists