Bill supports artists in beef with record industry

The Associated Press
Wednesday January 09, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Singers and performers in California’s $41 billion recording industry could break their long-term contracts under a bill introduced by state Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Culver City. 

The bill would also block record contracts beyond seven years, ending a longtime industry practice. The bill, which must pass this year and be signed by the governor to become law, bans record companies from collecting damages against artists who walk out after seven years. 

Murray, a former music agent, manager and attorney for singers, introduced the bill, SB1246, after a hearing on record contracts held last September. Recording artists such as sometime Hole front woman Courtney Love and Eagles drummer Don Henley slammed long-term contracts as unfair to artists. 

They told senators the standard seven-album contract often forces artists to spend 14 to 15 years with the same record label. 

Love has sued her label, Vivendi Universal, attempting to break her contract. Recording artists The Dixie Chicks are in a similar dispute with their label. 

State law prevents personal service contracts beyond seven years. But a 1987 exception exempts the record business from state labor laws, which Murray’s bill repeals. 

Record executives argue that their system is necessary in an industry that takes big risks on acts that often fail.  

During the hearing, executives called the complaining artists arrogant superstars who forgot that the industry once took a chance on them. 

Singers, forming a group called the Recording Artists Coalition, have scheduled five benefit concerts in Los Angeles on Feb. 26 to raise money for the legislative fight.