RIAA Takes Cue From The Onion: Wants Radio Stations To Pay Up For Promoting Music

from the no,-seriously? dept

You know your business is in trouble when you feel the need to start taking cues from the Onion for ways to squeeze more money out of customers. Last year, it was Verizon, who was found to have copied The Onion’s satirical “charge-you-at-a-whim” plan. The latest, as submitted by a few folks, is that the RIAA is following the basic recommendation famously laid out by the Onion five years ago to go after radio stations for “giving away free music.” It’s not quite that bad, but pretty close. The LA Times notes that the RIAA and some musicians are asking Congress to change the law to force radio stations to pay up for promoting their music. Of course, radio stations already do have to pay some royalties, but they’re for composers and publishers. The actual musicians are exempt from royalties because Congress (correctly) recognized that they get the benefit of their music being promoted. However, the new charge is being led by an original member of the Supremes, Mary Wilson, with the support of the RIAA, complaining that she can’t just sit at home and collect royalties and actually has to (gasp!) work to get paid these days. Oh, the horror. If only everyone else could sit at home and get paid for work they did forty years ago. In the meantime, she ignores the fact that radio play is a big part of what helped make the Supremes famous allowing her to make any money from her music at all. It’s what drove people to buy the records. It’s what drove people to go to the concerts. This is just like the musicians in the UK whining about not extending copyright. They’re acting as if this is a welfare system, and the government needs to make sure they keep getting paid for work they did decades ago.

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Comments on “RIAA Takes Cue From The Onion: Wants Radio Stations To Pay Up For Promoting Music”

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sendeth says:

Re: What about payola?

the onion??? what morons!!! this a satyr news site. the onion was making fun of them!!! this would be like microsoft following through with the onions story of how microsoft patented 1’s and 0’s. i know i know, i’m preaching to the choir here. only habdfull of people agree with the riaa.

better get xm, because the riaa is going to kill the radio.

Youmustbecrazy says:

This is your brain on drugs

Anyone remember the old this is your brain on drugs commercials? This would be a good one to add in there.

To be fair to the RIAA, everyone else is doing it. Everytime you pay for a brand something: NIKE, BOSE, Sony, Lexus, a good chunk of money is because of the brand recognition. Which, if you think about it, is just the companies strategy to get you to advertise their stuff. Nike gets the benefit of all the kids at school wearing their shoes.

The RIAA is just trying to cash in on the same scam. Who knows, maybe this will start the pendulim swinging back the other direction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: yet again

I just read a similer piece that appears to be saying that the RIAA WANT RADIO TO PAY THE SAME AS THEY WANT TO CHARGE INTERNET STATIONS. Have they now shown their true colors and now wish to kill all radio? That surely is a case of cutting your nose off to spite your face.

I have never see any good reason why terrestrial, satellite and internet stations should pay different rates.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: yet again

They should pay different rates. Terrestrial radio is free as is internet stations, however, terrestrial radio & internet radio have different sizes of audiences. Satellite radio is paid *not* free. So audience size & cost should play a factor when deciding royalties. HOWEVER, i think in all cases, the royalties are already too high. it’d be nice to see what happens if all radio died and then music sales drop drastically. the RIAA has to see that they’re already getting their money’s worth. For whatever reason, they’ve deluded themselves into thinking they are the only reason that any music sells.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: yet again

They should pay different rates.

Why? Because you decree it?

Terrestrial radio is free as is internet stations, however, terrestrial radio & internet radio have different sizes of audiences.

A statement of the obvious but so what? Royalties are typically based on audience size anyway. And some internet stations have larger audiences than some terrestrial stations and vice versa while some stations are free while some are not. But so what of it? We’re talking about different royalties per audience member being charged to different stations based solely on their broadcast technology.

…& cost should play a factor when deciding royalties.

Why should operating costs have anything to do with it? If I drive a gas guzzler should I get free gas? And if I drive an economy vehicle should I pay extra for gas so as to subsidize the free gas for the guzzlers? That sounds like some kind of welfare system to me.

HOWEVER, i think in all cases, the royalties are already too high.

I agree but still see no legitimate reason for rate discrimination here.

Bob (profile) says:

Radio Stations

The top radio stations could kill this stupidity and give RIAA a seriously black eye in one fell swoop, if they clubbed together and REFUSED to play RIAA backed music of ANY kind. In fact, they should go back to demanding money FROM the promoters/artists to play their music.How and when did the world get so turned upside down that the promoters/artists think they’re doing the radio stations a service, rather than the other way around??Was a time, when people’d buy cd’s based on what they liked on the radio, tv, etc… Now, the RIAA and their followers think they should be paid for this too!

Bob says:

Did I miss something?

Ummm, If I am not mistaken aren’t the recording companies sopposed to be taking care of “Their Acts”? Since it is with the recording companies that the musicians signed contracts. So, should congress mandate that RIAA have to pay the artists that wish to be paid for something that the artist did 40 years ago? Just a thought ….

The infamous Joe says:

Get a job.

Mary Wilson, who with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard formed the original Supremes, said the exemption was unfair and forced older musicians to continue touring to pay their bills.

Yeah, go figure. She is complaining because she has to keep working to make money. I read it, and my nose started to bleed.

I don’t know exactly why musicians like this think they’re better than everyone else– that they have to work for a few years of their life and be set until their great grandchildren die. It makes me glad I stopped buying music.

I think this law needs to get passed. It’s the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. I can’t wait.

Keith says:

Maybe not stupid....

If Radio Stations have to pay royalties for every song they play….they might be more selective of which songs they play. And if a Label waves the royalties for a certain artists song, they might play it more often.

Thus the Record Companies would have even more control over what is being played. There would be fewer “choices” for programmers and listeners, but we would be listening to what the Record Companies wanted us too.

Or we would be “paying” by being forced to purchase a Satellite Service to get the music we want… thus they would make more money.

Sanguine Dream says:

So let me get this straight...

the RIAA and a couple of outdated singers are going to Congress to put a law in place that would force radio stations to pay them for playing RIAA back music?

Last time I checked if I wanted someone to play my ad I had to pay them for the airtime.

I’d really like to know why the RIAA and musicians think that they are so special that only they should get paid for work they did decades ago.

Is the family of the architechs that designed the Brooklyn or Golden Gate bridges still collecing a salary for their ancestor’s work?

Is the family of Thomas Edison still collecting royalties from all the inventions he came up with?

I work in the IT department of a bank, does that mean that 20 yr. from now I can still get paid for people I’m helping now?

Don Wood says:


Jeez people stop crying and stop buying. This shit ain’t like having to have gasoline or medicine or utilities. This is an optional purchase. Opt OUT!!! See if they suck up and beg you to come back and buy again. I’ve never seen such a bunch of whiners crying over something they don’t have to have. The RIAA would be out of business if it were left up to me, and I like music the same as you folks. Get a life, and boycott! Damn! What a bunch of babies.

TheDock22 says:


and I like music the same as you folks. Get a life, and boycott! Damn! What a bunch of babies.

Obviously you don’t like music the same I do, I like to listen to my music. How am I suppose to do that if I boycott? You are lame, quit posting.

As far as this article goes, I would not worry about it. The RIAA will never win this issue since radio is considered a service. The courts will go against any action the RIAA tries to take.

Ambo says:


You are so right. If they don’t play it on the radio for free, or I don’t already own it, I don’t need to listen to it. If they kill radio, oh well it’s their loss. There are plenty of non RIAA bands out there. If no one buys their stuff, they will either wither up and die, or the Government will have to subsidize them so they can stay afloat. Oh great we’re screwed. Our taxes will be paying them.

Celes says:

Re: Re: RIAA

And there you have it, folks. If the RIAA doesn’t get the money it wants from private companies, its next move will almost certainly be trying to weasel more money out of the government to make up for the “shortage” (read: money it didn’t deserve to make in the first place). And when that happens, one way or another we will all pay for that.

Ugh… I wish there was some way to genetically engineer people to be born with at least an ounce of common sense.

comboman says:

Not Mary's First Cash Grab

Mary also was behind a Illinois law designed to crush cover bands (she doesn’t want to tour, but she doesn’t want anyone else to either). And she’s been in constant legal battles with Diana Ross to get her “fair share” of the Supremes’ money. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of artists from that era signed really bad contracts with record companies and got screwed out of a lot of money; but those are the people she should be going after, not radio stations or fellow artists.

DontpileonMe says:

Once Again Mike Says Musicians Lazy

Be very wary of Mikes smear campaign against a whole class (musicians). He has done this before (called musicians as a group lazy). Call him out on this. There is a word for this process of citing one person in a class and intimating that that example proves the behavior of the whole class- that word is “bigotry”.

I have news for you, I can find an example of one lazy technoid person but I would be extremely resistant to calling all technical people lazy.

Also, chances are that Mike has some amount of money in a savings account and (gasp) he is just sitting around at home earning passive income.

People, look at his underlying arguments. I think passive income is a great goal (hard to achieve) and I wish it for all here.

Cixelsid says:

Re: Once Again Mike Says Musicians Lazy

That’s streching it a bit don’t you think? Quote the phrase where he says exactly that.

Mike didn’t say musicians are lazy. He said that its unreasonable for anyone to claim recompense for work done decades ago.

I’m tempted to call shill on this comment, because no one with a double digit IQ could deduce what you have deduced from Mikes article.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Once Again Mike Says Musicians Lazy

Mike is simply pointing out that some musicians back this RIAA scheme to get money for work done long ago. It is interesting to me that this particular piece of legislation also forces royalties to be payed to artists. It has -nothing- to do with Mike calling misicians lazy. He simply wants -them- to put money in savings as well, not just sit around and ask for work they did decades ago to support them now. Especially at the cost of those that promote their (often) crummy work now.

Celes says:

Re: Re: Once Again Mike Says Musicians Lazy

So true. My dad was a composer and performer before I was born. (Probably worth noting that he was on a non-RIAA label, though.) When he stopped performing, he stopped getting paid, as it should be. I do remember that about once every couple of years, he would get a royalty check from ASCAP for his compositions (but I’m talking like $25 – not exactly enough to rest on his laurels or anything).

At one point we were having a bad time financially and he went back to writing music for a while, but that’s the point: he went back to writing. He produced new and different work in order to get paid. It’s sad to think that there are people who believe this isn’t how the world should work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Once Again Mike Says Musicians Lazy

Also, chances are that Mike has some amount of money in a savings account and (gasp) he is just sitting around at home earning passive income.

And if Mike does have some money in a savings account collecting interest I’ll bet it’s money that he earned it instead of still getting paid for blog posts he made 5-6 years ago.

There is a big difference between investing and buying laws that will save you the trouble of working decades after your career is over.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Once Again Mike Says Musicians Lazy

Be very wary of Mikes smear campaign against a whole class (musicians).

Now there’s an odd statement. I have nothing against musicians at all. I’m trying to help them understand better business models.

He has done this before (called musicians as a group lazy).

Wow. I’m not calling musicians as a group lazy at all. What gives you that idea? I’m pointing out that these musicians (and the RIAA) are asking to be paid again for work they did years ago. That certainly doesn’t mean or imply that all musicians are lazy. Quite the opposite. I know plenty of musicians who are exceptionally hard working.

Sanguine Dream says:

#19, #20, #21

#19 – That’s just my point. If I had the money to buy custom made laws I probably could somehow buy a law that would allow for me to still get paid 20 yr. down the road for support calls I’m doing now.

#20 – Along with voting with the wallet/purse its just as important to get the word about about the RIAA’s underhanded tactics. Two or three years ago I didn’t know (or care) about what how the RIAA was acting but I’m a little more informed and I think I’m better for it. It’s not like this stuff gets a lot of mainstream media coverage.

#21 – The Supremes were around in the 60s and 70s but if you go back to the 20s and 30s the musicians of that day had it even worse and I hate to play the race card but it was even worse than that if you were not white. The idea of the entertainment industry screwing the acutal talent out of money is a very old practice. It’s pretty obvious that the music industry has enjoyed this position for a very long time but now technology has finally advanced to the point where they can’t maintain the stranglehold anymore. So their solution is to buy a few custom made laws from Congress (using the money they’ve amassed over the years). And as for who she should go after I’m sure those old contracts are tighter than a nun’s…innocence. They are probably riddled with all kinds of clauses that prevent her from taking any action so after decades of bitterness she is not concerned with getting her money from the ones that actually cheated her but instead she just wants money no matter where it comes from.

Greg says:

Webcasters back the terrestrial royalties

Folks, keep in mind that webcasters want terrestrial radio to pay royalties too – it’s part of their argument that royalties need parity across platforms, with the goal of scrapping the new government rates. They say why should we pay if terrestrial pays nothing? There’s more at work here than a simplistic RIAA-is-stupid argument.

Matthew says:

Re: Webcasters back the terrestrial royalties

There should be no royalties like this for any form of music. THAT is the point. The RIAA is stupid. They’re simply trying to rip everyone off with the least amount of effort.

Lets not forget that the terrestrial stations have to pay all kinds of license fees, shell out millions for radio equipment, and pay all their employees (and perhaps their fines to the FCC). I’m sure there’s a cut in there somewhere for the music industry as well. It’s not like their sitting in their living room bathing in cash.

Don Wood says:

You are lame, quit posting.

At least I put my name on my posting, you, on the other hand are a whiner named TheDick22, who just happens to be ADICKTED to music to the point you can’t stop for awhile to influence the marketplace. Now, I’ll limp outta here on my lame legs and consider myself properly put in my place. Thank you massa, Toby be a good nigger now.

You never know says:

I promise no soap box and the gentleman who thinks my hats are made by Alcoa, you are mistaken. (Please note Mistletoe pinned to coat tail). I am simply voicing my opinion based on where the industry is going.
As long as people keep paying the price for entertainment the insanity will continue. Internet radio (the free stuff) is not a high dollar business, they can’t pay the price for very long. And Satellite Radio passes their cost directly off to it’s customers. If the RIAA gets their way, small terrestrial stations will be out of business as well.
Who will this leave and how much will it cost us? Who will be telling us what we can listen to, what to watch? Corporations like Clear Channel and Citadel, or the RIAA/MPAA themselves?

Anonymous Coward says:

Promotion is indespensible from licensing

The quandry as I see it is that the RIAA is in the business of licensing IP, and is seemingly uninterested in promotion- that process is owned by the label.

But the company can not license IP if it’s not promoted. The two are inseparatable from each other.

The current distribution system is broken, and is focused on each other’s back through what seems to be on a handshake and a smile.

Once senior level folks actually understand potential cost savings and Return-On-Investment required to maintain the current process in comparison to potential new processes or utilizing new entrants into this space, the dam will break.

It will happen eventually… As a result of people retiring if nothing else. Whoever lands that position- Music 2.0- will be one lucky person. The world will be their oyster.

In order for a company to survive the times, I firmly believe they need to constantly re-invent themselves, at least every 5 years- Throw the entire process out and reinvent asking “If I was to start this business today, how would I do it?”

It’s tough for the RIAA to do this simply because too many people have their hands in the cookie jar.

John (profile) says:


Back in 2001, Salon.com ran an article about how Clear Channel was the “big bully” of the airwaves (and may still be):

It would be interesting to see which company can bully each other:
In one corner, the RIAA, which represents artists (but is usually only trying to make money for itself).
In the other corner, Clear Channel Communications, which owns or operates thousands of radio stations.

If the RIAA pushes Clear Channel, will they push back and no longer play RIAA-backed music? How would this affect all the artists whom the RIAA claims to represent?

Of course the other question is: how relevant is “top 40” radio? How many people still listen to the same cookie-cutter “Best Mix of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s” stations? How many people listen instead to talk radio, sports radio, or satellite radio? How important is it to have your song played on the radio?

Shit Pickle! says:


I know this post is a little off topic. I can’t believe US Congress is actually supporting the RIAA! Are out congressmen & congresswomen so gulliable that they never do any research on there stastics? Monopolies like the RIAA have got to go! They are bad business. Treating their consumers like criminals, charging you for everything by the second, & pointing the finger at other organizations & companies that show creativity. What next? Will it cost me 25 cents everytime I play a song or will it cost me 50 cents just to mute it? Their Fascist methods of greed will be their downfall! And I’ll be dancing on their graves when their organization dies! When music was free & legal, people were happy, & sales were fine.

Traditional media man! I hate these dinosaurs sticking to their traditional ways of marketing. Change or die RIAA!

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