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What California's New Gig Economy Labor Law Means For Music Makers
"The gig economy is clearly here to stay – but it's not so clear how the new California labor law will affect music makers." –Conversations In Advocacy #66
This week California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new labor law aimed to support rideshare drivers and companies like Lyft and Uber with wage and benefit protections. But the sweeping legislation could also have an impact in other industries affected by the rise of the so-called "gig economy," including music.
Under the new law, it will be harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, entitling more freelance workers to minimum wage and employment benefits.
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With Governor @GavinNewsom’s signature, @LorenaAD80’s bill is a victory for the Labor Movement. #CaliforniaForAll pic.twitter.com/DkXQ3hBGSR
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) September 18, 2019
"California is now setting the global standard for worker protections for other states and countries to follow," Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the bill's author, said in a statement.
But music industry executives in California have warned Gonzalez that, while the law's effect on ridesharing and delivery companies has been the focus, the ramifications for producers, engineers, studio and live musicians, publicists and other working independently could be detrimental.The Recording Academy has also been involved in educating lawmakers about the impact of such legislation.
"Unless there is an exemption for the music industry, it will make every studio engineer, employees for whoever is hiring them," American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) president and CEO Richard J. Burgess said. "On a practical level, I don't see how it can work."
Gonzalez also told Billboard she's been meeting with music industry stakeholders to understand the law's impact on music makers, but could not agree on language for any sort of exemption or amendment.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has also issued a statement vowing to continue talks until a solution is reached, stating, "It will be hard to make music in California until this crucial exemption is won."
Rideshare and delivery companies have also responded, pushing Governor Newsom to come up with a third option for gig companies. But Newsom wants to keep negotiations between workers and businesses open so gig workers can collectively bargain. It's also unclear whether the new law would enable gig workers to unionize. While the effect of the new legislation is still coming into focus, it is clear change is coming for California labor law.