California’s gig economy AB5 bill could significantly damage the independent music industry
California is in the final stages of passing legislation that would severely impact, if not destroy the state’s independent music industry.
The bill, titled AB5, is written in response to the rise of gig economy jobs—companies like Uber, Doordash, and others. It states that anybody who provides services to a “hiring entity’s” business is no longer an independent contractor but to be considered an employee. The goal, according to assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is to target big businesses, particularly gig-economy goliaths like the rideshare providers, who hire hundreds of thousands of drivers without offering labor protections or benefits.
While AB5 is a clear attempt to hold the feet of these companies to the fire, forcing them to offer unemployment insurance, healthcare subsidies, overtime pay, paid breaks, and parental leave, its language also holds independent musicians to the very same standard. For example, an up-and-coming producer looking to hire a manager would now have to abide by the aforementioned labor laws proposed in the bill. Same goes for a rapper looking to have their first track mixed, who under the new law would be legally considered an employer to the mixing engineer. While these parameters make sense for larger companies, they seem nothing short of impossible for independent musicians.
“This is not an issue of big versus small; this is small struggling to become big. There are tens of thousands of kids with dreams in California—dreams to become a recording artist, a singer, a producer, a rapper, a small label executive, a major label executive. The unintended consequence of this law is that they will have to move out of California to pursue this dream,” says Mitch Glazier, President of the RIAA among other industry leaders in an op-ed published this week for Variety.
“If you care about allowing independent artists, songwriters, and labels to remain in California, we need your help. Call your local state legislature, your union, the AFM. Tell them how important it is to you that we keep the music in California. Ask them to support an exemption to AB5 for independent recording in California.”
Assembly Bill 5 goes to vote in California on September 13.