Senate Judiciary Committee Approves RIAA Bailout Radio Tax
from the and-so-it-goes dept
Because the federal government apparently hasn’t helped the RIAA enough in the past century — despite repeatedly changing copyright laws to favor the industry again and again and again (and again) — the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the Performance Rights Act, which effectively serves to tax radio stations for promoting music. It’s quite obvious to anyone who actually understands radio economics that this makes no sense. After all, the history of radio has always been about payola — having the labels pay the radio stations to play certain works. That’s because the record labels know quite well that airtime leads to more money in terms of promoting an artist and building a business model around music, concert and merchandise sales. To the labels, airplay has always been the equivalent of advertising. That’s why they pay for it.
But now they want the radio stations to pay them to advertise the labels’ music? Isn’t that getting the equation backwards?
This is nothing more than a federal bailout of the RIAA, who still refuses to embrace new business models. Instead, they have to squeeze others and get the government to force them to hand over money. A real business model doesn’t involve changing the law. It involves giving others a reason to buy. Apparently, that’s too difficult for the RIAA.
As for the claims that a performance license will somehow help musicians, that’s bogus as well. First, ask the RIAA’s SoundExchange about all the money it keeps for itself and about all the musicians it “can’t find.” Besides, all this will do is harm up-and-coming musicians. Because radio stations will now need to pay more for playing music, they’ll play less music, and if they’re playing less music, they’ll focus just on the big name acts. Smaller up-and-coming artists should be furious with the RIAA for giving radio stations less incentive to play their works. Remember, this is the opposite of payola. While payola got new records on the air, this will make sure fewer get on the air. But it will sure put a bunch more money in the pockets of the major record labels. So there’s that.