At state51 we care about the music we deal with and the people who make it.
That’s why we are proud to announce new ethical standards designed for our work with artists, labels and their music.
Three ethical principles will guide everything we do:
- We will be transparent in business, which means giving labels and artists the information they need about the deals and payments that affect them.
- We will credit the creators, making sure the right people get the attribution and payment they deserve.
- We will help creators control the destiny of their work, so that artists and labels can make decisions that are right for them.
We think we are the first music company to publish standards like this and explain how we plan to live up to them. We believe that defining and committing to ethical standards will make us the fairest and most transparent music company we can be.
We don’t expect this will be easy, nor that we have all the answers. So we’ll publish the progress we make and invite feedback and contributions along the way.
Below you can read about our new ethical standards and what they mean for how we work.
Why ethical standards?
We take the responsibilities we have to artists and labels very seriously.
We love helping them to make and share the best possible music with fans around the world. We want them to get the right credit, payment and respect in return.
We believe these values are at the core of independent music.
The music industry can be opaque and hard to understand, especially in the digital age. Music licensing can be complicated. Contracts are often written in legalese. There’s a lot of data, but sometimes important bits of information are missing, wrong, or just confusing. There’s also a lot of secrecy covering the terms of the deals that labels and artists rely on.
This can make it difficult for artists, labels and their fans to know what a good deal looks like and whether everyone is being treated fairly.
These problems have inspired many discussions and initiatives.
But we want to do more than just tell people we agree with some nice values and ideas. We want to show people how we can live up to them.
That’s why we are working hard to demonstrate how a music company like state51 can embody and promote ethical values in the music industry.
Our ethical standards
There are three simple ethical principles behind all of our work: being transparent in business, giving credit to creators, and giving creators choice over the destiny of their work.
1. Transparent business.
Transparency means giving labels and artists the information they need about the business deals and payments that affect them.
This means that our agreements and contracts should be clear and easy to understand, so that everybody knows what they are committing to.
We will provide labels and artists with as much information about our business as we can, and explain why there are times when we cannot. We will try to persuade all our partners to do likewise.
We will be clear, efficient and accurate when we report and pay labels and artists. We’ll work to give labels and artists more detailed and useful information about how their music has been used and what money they are owed. We will be upfront and honest about our fees.
2. Crediting the creators.
Provenance is a vital part of our ethical work. It means making sure the right people get the credit and payment they deserve.
We also want to help fans learn more about the music and artists they love.
In practice, this means we must be vigilant and rigorous with all the information about the music, the creators and performers, and the other contributors.
We will make sure that accurate and detailed information is captured and made available. We will be pushing music services to display more of this information to listeners.
3. Giving creators choice over the destiny of their work.
Artists often make choices about the values and ideas they would like associated with their music. Their right to do so is part of the law in many countries.
We have a duty to artists to respect these choices and to help them realise their ideas.
We will never ask artists to sign contracts that waive their right to choose how and where their music is used. Wherever possible, we will provide the information artists and labels need to make decisions that are right for them.
What we are doing now to live up to our ethical standards
For the first phase of our ethical work we will be making sure that the way we distribute music is compliant with our new standards.
- New contracts that are simpler and easier to understand, written in the clearest language possible with an explanation of legal or technical terms. If we don’t understand what’s in a contract we will take it out.
- New reports that give labels and artists better information about the use of music and the money they are owed. To help artists and labels understand the reports they will come with plain language summaries.
- Transparency reports. We will produce a general transparency statement, explaining the money we receive, why we receive it and what we do with it. Annual statements for our labels and artists will give as much information as possible about the money we have received and where it goes.
- Metadata guarantees. We are working to make sure that information about all the people involved in making music is collected and used properly. We will also make sure that all the right industry standard identifiers are included, so that the right people are identified and paid for their work.
- Advocacy. Where we see obstacles to achieving our ethical goals that we can’t fix on our own, we will try to work with others to advocate for change.