Recording Industry Lobbying Group Pushes Congress To Tax Radio Stations More

from the and-even-screws-that-up dept

MusicFIRST, a recording industry lobbying group that already has some controversy surrounding it due to contributions from groups not allowed to be involved in lobbying, is continuing to push forward with its campaign to claim that radio is a kind of piracy and demanding legislation that forces radio stations to pay extra to play music. For most of the history of radio, radio stations have paid songwriters and publishers royalties for playing music on the radio, but they didn’t pay the musicians (really: the record labels). In fact, the money often (illegally) went in the other direction, with the labels paying the radio stations to play certain artists to help promote them.

However, these days, with the recording industry unable to adapt to the changing marketplace, they’ve taken to demanding that others (individuals, ISPs, video games, Apple, webcasters, etc…) simply give them money instead. Their latest target, of course, is radio stations. It started with that silly claim that radio is a form of piracy — then advanced to a bill, being introduced by a Congressional Rep, John Conyers (whose last campaign was heavily funded by those connected to the labels and this lobbying group), to force radio stations to pay the record labels as well.

MusicFIRST’s latest effort was to drag its dog and pony show to Congress, where it paraded a bunch of musicians in front of Congresscritters to whine about how unfair it was that radio stations helped promote their music without paying them. Of course, it looks like MusicFIRST should have talked to the musicians a bit more carefully first. One of the musicians they trotted out, Matt Maher, less than 24 hours before going before Congress, noted on his Twitter account how such royalties could hurt radio stations and worried that it would cause some stations to shut down. Apparently, someone went a bit off the reservation and made exactly the opposite point that MusicFIRST wanted him to make….

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Companies: musicfirst, nab, riaa

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Comments on “Recording Industry Lobbying Group Pushes Congress To Tax Radio Stations More”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It might not be too bad if...

Rewriting the law might not be too bad IF there is a provision that allows radio stations to negotiate whether they pay or not. There are lots of indies who would be delighted to have their music played on the radio, even if they did not get paid.

If this happened you would very quickly see syndicates spring up to provide free music to stations which would be the RIAA’s and MusicFIRST’s worst nightmare. Of course, the bought-and-paid-for politicians will make certain that this doesn’t happen, and all stations will have to pay the same for everything. That prevents competition and makes sure the established RIAA and ProfitFIRST’s position is secure.

Just Passing Through says:


MusicFIRST’s latest effort was to drag its dog and pony show to Congress, where it paraded a bunch of musicians in front of Congresscritters to whine about how unfair it was that radio stations helped promote their music without paying them.

That’s pure chutzpah!

I worked in radio station management for years. Every label, artist and distributor regularly sends tons of promotional recordings to every station in the country, along with letters begging the station to play the music.

Now they want a taxt to collect even more than just royalties through RIAA/ASCAP/BMI/SESAC?

Maybe we ought to just give them the radio stations.

John Paradox (user link) says:

Next from the RIAA

I got this from a friend about a year ago.
It will probably be true, if the **AA’s continue on their current paths.

RIAA Claims Music On Car Radios Meant Only For Original Vehicle Owner!

Trade Group Vows To Go After Passengers Who Illegally Share Soundwaves.

The Recording Industry Association of America announced today it would
be expanding its crackdown on copyright infringement by suing family
members, hitchhikers and carpoolers.

Lawyers for the RIAA maintain that the radio in each car was never meant
to be listened to by anyone else except the original owner of the vehicle.

Therefore, any additional passengers who listen to music on the radio in
another individual’s car are doing so illegally and without the express
permission of the copyright holders of the respective songs that are

RIAA attorneys were preparing to go to Federal District courts across
the country to have subpoenas issued to every car maker in America in
the hopes of forcing them to disclose the names and addresses of all
purchasers from the last 20 years.

“We think this is a no brainer,” said an RIAA spokesperson who declined
to be identified. “These drivers have been illegally sharing music on
their radios and their passengers have been getting a free ride for way
too long,” he continued.

Legal representatives for the RIAA also warned that they would
especially be targeting the “big fish” like charter bus drivers and RV
owners who blatantly turn up the radio volume allowing others to hear.

In addition, RIAA lawyers said they were hoping to get a court order to
exhume the bodies of Scottish physicist James Clerk-Maxwell, who
developed the theory of electromagnetic waves and Guglielmo Marconi, who
discovered and harnessed wireless radio in order to sue both corpses for
unfair business practices.

Tony Coloff says:

Radio Station airplay

I am an owner and manager of a single radio station in a small market.

And I was a radio station dj 48 years ago when Dionne Warwick put out her first record. She is what she is today because of radio station airplay.

It happened because record company promotion people inundated radio stations with promotional copies and pushed
hard to get her record played every time she had a new record.

And because dj’s are required by federal law to select music solely for artistic merit (no payola or plugola)to be fair to all artists whether they are on a record label or not, and all record companies, enough dj’s liked the record
enough to play it, enough radio stations picked it up and played them across the country, to where the records became big hits and the artist became a big star.

It happened back then, its happened every day since then, and it happens every day today.

Because of this, the record companies make billions, the artist makes millions, and the radio stations pay the airtime promotion bill and get nothing for this service.
Instead, radio stations are under heavy federal regulation to serve the public in so many countless ways and hope and pray they can sell enough advertising to pay all the bills
to keep the station on the air.

Radio stations should be charging advertising time
to the record labels, or the ARTISTS, or both, for everytime
one of their records are played, whether they are new
releases, or as old as Dionne Warwicks are.

Tony Coloff
Pres/Gen Mgr
KIOW FM-107.3
18643 360th Street
PO Box 308
Forest City, Iowa 50436
FAX: 641-585-2990

Emilio Pastrana (user link) says:

Re: Radio Station airplay

This procedure (artists giving their music to radio stations in order to play it and radio stations deciding to play it and therefore, heavily promote it along with the artists themselves), has worked for decades and it seemed that it will work forever. Why I’m saying this?, because is based on simple RECIPROCITY. Both sides help each other and everybody was happy.

Why do we have then to let this bunch of opportunistic mercenaries disguised as RIAA, to break this healthy tradition?

Please!, … someone has to use the common sense!

TonsoTunez (profile) says:

Re: Re: Radio Station airplay

Michael, true to format, trashes his target, provides links to mostly negative unfounded, unsubstantiated attacks on his target and fails to provide a link to his victim’s website so those interested could easily take a look at their point of view.

Well, here’s the link.


Although the RIAA supports MusicFIRST it is only one of many organizations representing thousands upon thousands of artists, musicians and singers that support MusicFirst. A list of the organizations is below.

Additionally, hundreds of artists have joined the organization directly – their names are mentioned on the site.

Before following anybody’s rant blindly – which appears to be the case with respect to most of the responses to Michael’s post – taking all points of view into consideration might be useful.

Organizations Supporting MusicFIRST include:
American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM),
American Association of Independent Music (A2IM),
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA),
Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA),
Music Managers Forum – USA (MMF- USA),
The Latin Recording Academy,
The Recording Academy,
The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc,
Recording Artists’ Coalition (RAC),
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),
Society of Singers,
Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

little waf says:

Re: Radio Station airplay

I highly do not believe a radio station will play an artist’s music if the artist is not signed to a record label…The only time I have ever heard of artists making it on the radio station, without being signed, is late late on sunday night…Maybe they will slip one or two on an A.M. BUT NOT LIKELY.

Amie says:

Re: Re: Radio Station airplay

That depends on the radio station… There are 3 listener supported stations I listen to one of which 40 percent of their airplay is indie label artist and 10 percent are completely unsigned artists who send in demos that are voted on by the listeners. If they vote well the artist gets alot of airplay if they vote poorly they will get a very small amount of airplay. Yes the major label artists get the most airplay but the indie artists get almost the same amount. And the local unsigned bands also get a chance at some radio exposure

Tonsotunez (profile) says:

Radio Station airplay

The US is one of the few – if not the only – country in the world where radio stations don’t pay performance royalties to artists … Because US radio doesn’t pay royalties – Societies around the world that collect artist performance royalties don’t share those royalties with American artists. It’s called reciprocity. With American music being far and away the most popular music in the world, American artists have lost billions in income they should have been receiving through the years.

The National Association of Broadcasters is among the richest and most influential lobbies in Washington. After all they represent radio station in every electorial district in the country and spend tons of money to remind legislators how important their radio stations are to their campaigns when election time rolls around.

Artists have been trying to be treated like the foreign counter parts for years. The NAB has squashed them like a bug every time they’ve tried and they are not letting up this time around.

The reality is that if there ever was a quid pro quo where radio play helped sell records … piracy has removed that little give and take … It only took 62,000 sales to give Taylor Swift the number one position on the album charts this week … piracy accounted for what would have been the remaining sales … perhaps an additional 100,000 units.

So, radio is using professional quality music provided to them without charge to sell advertising and the artist is getting rather little in return. Older artists who are no longer performing and whose recordings are getting sucked off the Net for nothing are totally out in the cold.

As everyone in these sorts of blogs always says, changing times require changing the way we look at monetary considerations … The time is right for artists to finally get what they should have gotten for years… get what artists throughout the rest of the world have always gotten.

What is it about the artists everyone loves that leads consumers to believe that artists don’t deserve to get paid.

Tony Coloff says:

Re: Radio Station airplay

Au contraire:
Local radio station play across the country and around the world is why American Music IS, far and away the most popular music in the world.
That’s a huge monetary, fame, and popularity factor that has been worth billions, if not quadrillions, to record companies and artists for 80 years.
It’s the exact opposite of what you say; to the HUGE contrary, local radio station free play for free promotion
is why American Music is far and away the most popular music in the world.

And, PLEASE!!!!!, tell me how piracy is the fault of local radio stations???

TonsoTunez (profile) says:

Re: Re: Radio Station airplay

“And, PLEASE!!!!!, tell me how piracy is the fault of local radio stations???”

Piracy is not the fault of local radio; but, radio is now used by its listeners to determine what to steal rather than what to purchase …

The, old I’ll scratch your back you scratch mine quid pro quo that has existed for years – no longer exists.

In this new age, radio needs to start doing its part to fund the high quality musical entertainment it uses to sell advertising otherwise there is no incentive to continue to deliver the entertainment programming that makes the commercials palatable.

Budgie says:

Re: Radio Station airplay

“So, radio is using professional quality music provided to them without charge to sell advertising and the artist is getting rather little in return.”

Give me a break. Are you serious?? The artist is getting free advertisement. Nobody is twisting their arm and making them send the stations free music. If it didn’t benefit them through exposure and airplay, they wouldn’t send it in in the first place.

Angel says:

who fault?

Over the years of purchasing hundreds upon hundreds of albums, I realize this quality in the music in gone. What do I mean the artist makes 2-3 good to decent tracks on a 13 track cd. You listen to the good song on the radio then love the song so much you go out and purchase said artist latest album. The album turns out to be crap with the exception of 2 maybe 3 songs if you’re lucky. Then the fallow up album comes out and you get less quality from the last one. After the two raping of the wallet paying 13.99 for one cd and again for another cd plus tax of course the artist goes to the web again and tries to rap your wallet again. Why aren’t people buying records because artists in the past have violated the consumer with bad record and a good track? People got tired of it, which was bound to happen. No one wants to support the artist any more why cause of past violations. I personally only buy cd of artists i’m willing to support which is far and few between. I own approximately 800cd and I can say most of the track on them sucks horribly. The quality just aint there any more and the consumer was and is the real victim. We all felt the sting of the 13.99 for one track disc with no sorry, no refund, and no where to complain. The artists of today are paying for the sins of the artist of the past. Is radio to blame it depends how you look at it. is it there fault the artist puts out crap on the rest of the cd and no one wants to get ripped on it no, there promoter ask to be played and I think the promoters should be the ones to pay. If you’re asking me to do you a favor then you ask me to pay for doing the favor why would I do it? Really the artists have their 0.99 cent downloads of the single their still getting paid. I’m their defense it has become unfair with free downloads of the latest song via internet, and an artist should get paid for their work. But the whole fiasco was cause by crappy records the consumer lost faith in the industry, the sad part is they are not trying to mend the relationship but find ways around like this little bill here. all it going to do like the smoking band did to most of the bars in IL is kill the business and they are all going to stand around scratching their head wondering why? what happen it might work for a small while but in the long run we will end up with radio station packed with more commercials the music as if it aint bad enough. And we are talking the radio station who survives the aftermath no pun intended. If they want better sales with the consumer back and make better records not just good tracks. Ask your self do you want radio with all advertisement all the time with hints of music, I don’t. Then again I don’t listen to radio and just wanted to put my opinion in on he matter.

little waf says:


I feel that radio has “lost its soul” when it turned the tables and began receiving money from artists. It is very obvious who the highest bidders are. I feel those “main stream, highest bidders” are not great artists but sell-outs, and the real music only gets played once or twice a day, and we are forced to here that one or two songs all day. Maybe if it goes back the other way the real musicians out there will at least have a chance to make it on, and fulfill their dream, of being a “rockstar”. On the other hand congress has WAYYYYY more important things to fix right now other than radio. It bewilders me that they are focusing at least 5 minutes on this problem, when we have an entire country to fix! god bless -little waf

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