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Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard Reckons Unionising Will Solve Spotify Problems

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 Written by Elliott Batte

Nathan Hubbard - CEO of Ticketmaster - has claimed that artists should be unionised, following this week’s Spotify controversy.

We reported earlier today that Radiohead/Atoms for Peace stars Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich had kicked off a massive debate about Spotify and the amount of money they pay artists for their track streams.

Spotify - and interestingly Radiohead manager Brian Message - have responded, with the company claiming that they’ve paid over $500million to ‘rights-holders'. Now, Hubbard has stepped in and given his two cents - stating that he thinks musicians should be unionised.

He penned an open response to Bob Lefsetz - who runs the Lefsetz Letter, a music industry blog - and his latest post, which is about the Spotify vs Yorke/Godrich debate. He wrote (via Music Week):

“One of my biggest frustrations at the moment is the complete lack of leadership from the artist community on the key issues facing our industry. It is a complete void. Those who step up are either painfully wrong and disorganized (as in this case), or go completely unsupported by their peers.

“There is no artist union. THERE SHOULD BE. Managers and agents keep that from happening because they're afraid of poaching if they let another representative get close to their artist. But artists aren't demanding unionisation (or something like it) either. Collaboratively in the live business alone, they could:

- Stop the poisonous attack on artists' rights to try to get a cheap
ticket to their fans through legislation
- Force a better consumer experience by insisting on all-in pricing (and potentially secure better economics for themselves)
- Drive full inventory disclosure so fans get the best shot at tickets
- Even potentially break the venue control of the ticket if they wanted to

“They are missing the fact that being an artist in this age also means being an entrepreneur. And good entrepreneurs know when to partner to further their interests.

“My observation is that most of the bad things about the consumer experience in both recorded and live music have been allowed to persist because the artist community is fragmented, and therefore powerless as a whole.  They lose out to established status-quo forces via thousands of one-on-one negotiations, rather than creating leverage by assembling their interests. "It also allows larger artists to act with only self interest, rather than using their status to advance the cause of all artists. There are no ties that bind.

“I'm obsessed with solving this, because without a collective voice from the artist community, transformative forces will shape the future of their business (and potentially their craft) without them. And history says that is an exploitative environment for artists, and a mediocre-at-best experience for fans.”

What do you think of his response - would a union solve their problems? Leave us a comment with your opinion below!

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