Page last updated at 23:30 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 00:30 UK

Music stars unite to seek control

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams is currently working on a new album

UK pop and rock stars are taking action to try to gain ownership and control of their work from record labels.

Robbie Williams, Radiohead, Kaiser Chiefs and The Verve are among the acts who have signed up to a new pressure group, the Featured Artists' Coalition.

It wants artists to keep the rights to the music they create and to have a greater say in how their songs are sold - and a bigger slice of the takings.

It is a sign of a shift in power in the music industry in the digital age.

In the last 12 months, big names have seen their options multiply after a string of stars shunned traditional record contracts and found new ways of releasing music.

At the same time, many acts have felt they have been ignored when their record labels and music publishers have struck new digital deals.

A spokesperson from the BPI - the body that represents the UK's recorded music business - said it was "looking forward" to working with the coalition.

"The UK music business is a complex community that binds performers, songwriters, promoters, managers, agents, record labels, publishers, distributors, manufactures and retailers.

"No one part of the business can function without the other. This is a business under huge external pressure, and we are stronger united.

"The creators themselves - featured artists, session musicians and songwriters lie right at the heart of this business, and we look forward to working closely with FAC in the future."

The Featured Artists' Coalition's main demands include allowing musicians to keep the copyright to their own music, which could then be leased to record companies.

Kate Nash
I'm the only one who sees my album as this baby that I need to protect, something that's precious
Kate Nash

At the moment, record labels normally own the rights to the music their artists make.

The coalition also wants its members to be consulted more fully on how their music is used, the ways it is sold and who gets the money.

"Record and technology companies are signing agreements to deliver music to fans in new ways," its charter says.

"Artists are not involved in these negotiations and their interests are likely to be overlooked. Artists should receive fair compensation as part of these new deals."

Radiohead famously released their last album, In Rainbows, through their own website, illustrating how established acts could thrive without a record deal.

Talking about the coalition, Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien said: "For us, this is a no-brainer of an issue and we believe that all artists and musicians should be signing up to this too."

Billy Bragg
Bryan Ferry
David Gilmour
Jools Holland
Iron Maiden
Kaiser Chiefs
Kate Nash
Robbie Williams
The Verve

Other artists, from McFly to Madonna, have left major labels to release their music through newspapers or live music companies.

Pop singer Kate Nash, who signed a major label deal after building up her fanbase online, is among the other artists on board.

"There are going to be people who don't care about your rights and whether you can keep your integrity - they're just going to want to make money out of you," she told BBC News.

"I'm the only one who sees my album as this baby that I need to protect, something that's precious."

Jools Holland, Travis, Bryan Ferry, David Gilmour and Klaxons have also joined the group.

The coalition is also intending to speak up for artists' rights in high-profile issues in the music industry.

It wants changes to copyright law and for the rights of performers to be brought in line with those of songwriters.

When a song is played in a TV advert, on US radio or in a film, its authors are paid but the performers are not, the body said.

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