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The Music Biz Will Split From California If The ‘Gig Law’ Sticks, Warn Artist and Label Groups

Recording artists and independent labels will check out of the Hotel California if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the controversial “gig economy” bill, warn music industry groups who say they hit a wall in negotiations with the musicians’ union.  

“Get ready Nashville and New York — it looks like you’re about to have your own recorded-music boom,” reads a joint statement from the Recording Industry Association of America, A2IM and the Music Artists Coalition.

The expansive and explosive bill, California AB-5, converts independent contractors into regular employees, impacting a diverse pool of freelancers from Uber drivers to scuba divers. Among the loudest opponents are newspapers, movie makers, adult entertainment companies, and truck drivers, some circling the Capitol in big rigs with horns honking.

Music industry horns are blaring too, as the bill’s wide net has caught labels and music professionals, from session musicians and vocalists to producers, engineers, songwriters, tour managers and roadies, among others. 

Hardest hit, say the music trade groups, are independent artists and labels who record or otherwise collaborate with musicians and vocalists, and may now need to provide employment benefits such as minimum wage and overtime, workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment insurance, among other protections.

Customary arrangements with freelancing music professionals have been flexible, including flat fee deals and “spec” agreements, where no one gets paid unless the project prospers. These arrangements may fly out the window or go underground in California.

Curiously, many kinds of workers were granted exemptions from the new law, including insurance brokers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, engineers, private investigators, accountants, investment agents, salespeople, real estate agents and commercial

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