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ESDAWHAT IS A RECORD PRODUCER?

5. THE MUSIC PRODUCER COMPARED WITH THE ORCHESTRAL CONDUCTOR

Many senior representatives of neighbouring rights collection societies that deal with neighbouring rights income acknowledge that Music Producers are 'performers' in the wider sense and deserve a full share of neighbouring rights income received by other performers either as a matter of right or practice. They also acknowledge that it is only the outdated concept of 'performer' adopted in international treaties and national legislation alike, which prevents Music Producers from claiming a share of that neighbouring, rights income as of right.

A similar anomaly has existed in relation to conductors of orchestral recordings. However, although the definition of 'performer' in the 1961 Rome Convention does not include conductors, the Diplomatic Conference which preceded it worked out a scheme of practice whereby conductors could be paid a share of neighbouring rights income from the relevant collection societies. This means that although conductors do not enjoy the substantive rights of performers, they nevertheless enjoy quasi-economic rights against the collection societies as a matter of established practice.

The neighbouring right collection societies, which allocate shares of revenue according to the role of the participants, use various weighting schemes to differentiate between the value of particular roles to the sound recording. Invariably, the conductor is allocated a middle weighting, reflecting the value of his contribution and despite the fact that conductors do not qualify as performers. Few people would argue that conductors do not render a performance, albeit a silent one, and it seems churlish and anachronistic for this anomaly to be maintained when there is an appropriate opportunity to make a change which will bring the definition of performer up-to-date with the contemporary reality.

There is general agreement, even expressed in the debate in the societies themselves, that the moral case for Music Producers participating in neighbouring rights revenues is very strong. It is clear that in the modern recording process, no matter what genre of music is being recorded, the role of the Music Producer is analogous to that of an orchestral conductor - responsibility for interpretation, balance, tempo, solo and ensemble performance quality are at least shared with the Music Producer in orchestral recording and usually abdicated entirely to the Music Producer in the context of pop recordings.

In discussing the comparison between the roles of conductor and Music Producer such terms as 'quasi-conductor' or even 'mini-conductor' have been suggested as possible descriptions which would allow Music Producers to fit in with the existing systems of neighbouring remuneration in respect to a Music Producer’s entitlement to performers rights. Although such a compromise might appear to go some way toward resolving the question, Music Producers throughout Europe believe the time when their role as performers is appropriately recognised in its own right is long overdue

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