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Musicians in N.Y. Urge Rights Reform

October 23, 2002|Chuck Philips | Times Staff Writer

New York musicians are lobbying lawmakers to introduce legislative reform for the music industry, including a bill to reduce the length of recording contracts in the state.

The move comes two months after a similar artists rights bill died in the California Senate.

The New York bill, which could open the door on free agency for recording acts in the state, is expected to be proposed before the end of the current legislative session, sources said. Additional proposals focusing on other industry practices, including accounting, probably will follow, sources said.

The New York effort is spearheaded by entertainment attorney L. Londell McMillan and the Artist Empowerment Coalition, a New York-based nonprofit group that includes dozens of recording stars such as Prince and Stevie Wonder. McMillan and AEC member Montell Jordan testified in July at the California Senate hearings on accounting practices in the music industry.

The New York legislation is the latest development in an ongoing debate over artists rights in the recording industry. Over the last year, California lawmakers have held hearings to examine allegations by artists about unfair contracts and music companies shortchanging them on wages and health-care and pension benefits.

On Monday, AEC is scheduled to host the first in a series of concert benefits aimed at raising awareness about artists rights issues. The New York concert is expected to feature performances by such stars as DMX, Roberta Flack, Faith Evans, Scarface, Wonder, Jordan and Hezekiah Walker.

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