In a statement posted to Instagram, Lauryn Hill has urged California lawmakers to pass the FAIR act, which will overhaul labor law in the state.
The act was first introduced by California state assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez last year. Its full title is the Free Artists from Industry Restrictions Act, and would cap recording contracts for artists based in California or labels based in California at seven years. The idea is the bill will further protect musicians, as the same protection the bill proposes is already granted to California workers in other fields.
Lauryn Hill is one of the biggest proponents of the bill, and has shared a lengthy letter urging California lawmakers to pass it. If passed, the law would also offer the same protections to TV and Film productions, too.
“We would love to believe that businesses at the highest level are always run by fair practices and moral prerogatives, but this is more often than not, not the case,” she wrote. “For this reason laws MUST exist that protect people from harsh and insensitive practices like artist suppression, and willful sabotage and neglect. Record companies are still peopled and run by… Well, people—with personal policies, biases and issues we may know nothing about. Artists can easily fall prey to the internal politics of business, someone inside simply not liking them, or bulling and intimidation and the attacks that come when someone resists that coercion.”
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She highlighted that greed can often “pervert the creative intentions of young dreamers who don’t realize they’re up against a system with a history of using and crushing people who don’t comply with their agenda.” Hill would know, as she’s spoken at length in the past about the corruption and greed that’s rife in the music industry.
“We have a history of examples, of albums, of bands, and of people whose influence on popular culture has literally changed the world,” she continued. “When these voices go silence and repressed, the world is dramatically affected. No institution should be allowed the opportunity to control the market by controlling the output of a creative being for some ridiculous, indefinite period of time.”
The Recording Industry Association of America and 20 record labels released three studies last year in which they claimed the bill could “upend the existing creative ecosystem that is producing the largest advances and royalty payments in music business history,” per Deadline.
Irving Azoff, founder of the Music Artists Coalition, has said that streaming has dramatically changed how the recording industry has worked but the laws have not been changed to reflect that. “Streaming has been an unprecedented bonanza for the record labels, but not so for artists,” said Azoff last year. “It is unfair that the only Californians excluded from the protection of the Seven Year Statute are recording artists. We ask our record label partners and members of the California legislature to join us and support this important initiative. We must protect artists and modernize this archaic law.”