What the Trump administration holds for the creative sector

What the Trump administration holds for the creative sector

Donald Trump will enter the White House today and become the 45th president of the United States of America. But how will the new president impact the creative sector? Music Week offers some tips...

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?
Donald Trump and Barack Obama could not be more different in their approach to public policies, but will it mean a significant change in how creative industries and creators will be treated? Traditionally, the White House is rarely involved in public policies involving the arts or in the copyright framework affecting the creative sector. Bill Clinton was a driving force behind the DMCA legislation of 1998, but his followers at the White House have preferred to let Congress and other government agencies set the policies. However, even if his programme did not include any specific policies towards the copyright industries, Trump - who has made a lot of his money through the licensing of his brand, and worked with creatives on his TV shows - may be more receptive to requests from the creative sector. At least this is how many people in the industry see it, even though Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton was favoured by many in the music industry.

Get Up, Stand Up!
President Obama was a music buff, with impeccable taste as shown by his Spotify playlists, who hosted the most music-related events at the White House of all US Presidents, where he was usually seen singing along to Stevie Wonder's and Bruce Springsteen's songs. By the sound of it, there is little chance that the same will happen with Trump. The incoming President was never popular among artists during the campaign, and his embarrassing inability to secure big names for his inauguration - and the shame game on social networks that ensued when artists like Andrea Bocelli accepted his invitation - is a sign of the distrust between the creative community and Trump. It is quite likely that Trump, who has polarised the political spectrum over the last year, will continue to be a divisive figure for creators. His election has re-energised artists (as seen with the reunion of Audioslave for the Anti-inaugural Ball) and inspired them to write songs about America under Trump (as seen with Fiona Apple's Tiny Hands). The times, they are a-changing, as a Nobel Prize laureate would probably sing.

A window for change?
A new administration always provides a "window for change" in the words of David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers' Association, and a potentially heavy legislative agenda awaits Congress. A few weeks after he was elected, Trump received a letter signed by a wide range of music industry organisations asking him to support changes that would benefit the sector, with no response to date. But the executives at trade bodies that Music Week spoke to in the past few weeks were taking the positive view that a Republican administration, with a Republican-dominated Congress, could help push forward some of the industry's top items on the agenda, from performance rights on sound recordings for terrestrial radio, to the revision of the consent decrees under which ASCAP and BMI operate, overseen by the Department of Justice, and the changes in legislation on safe harbours. The chair of the Judiciary Committee at the House of Representatives, Bob Goodlatte, has announced a plan to move forward on some legislative issues and all eyes will be on Goodlatte, hoping that he delivers.

Will Google's influence fade?
The influence of the tech industry in general, and Google in particular, over the Obama administration has been heavily documented. After all, Obama was the one who killed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which left scars on the creative sector. The White House was even described by NMPA's Israelite, as "a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google." Such influence could be fading under a Trump administration, with a new president who might be a heavy user of Twitter but who does not seem to be as interested in digital issues as his predecessor. The meeting between tech leaders and the president-elect a few weeks back did not warm up the relationship between the two camps. In addition, Trump is likely to appoint a new chairman of the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, who, unlike his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, might not be so keen to maintain net neutrality rules, which were heavily supported by Google and the tech community. The potential fallout between Google and the US administration was entertained as a positive evolution by music industry executives following Trump's election. Time will tell if it will have an influence on issues such as the legislation on safe harbour, and on Google's constant attempts to weaken copyright legislation, among other things.

The end of trade treaties?
Trump has been a staunch critic of international trade treaties, favoured by his predecessor. Two major treaties from the Obama era are still in the pipe-line: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 countries from the Pacific Rim, which has not yet been ratified by the US; and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, which is currently in limbo. Why do these treaties matter? Because they have always been the opportunity for organisations representing the creative sector, such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, to ensure that these treaties would incorporate strong provisions related to copyright legislation and the fight against piracy. If these trade instruments were to be dropped, this would certainly have a significant impact on the way certain countries would approach copyright issues and piracy.

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