by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 24th 2007 6:35am
Remember a few months back when the RIAA started asking the government to get radio stations to pay up for promoting their music? This seemed pretty ludicrous (especially when you add in the fact that record labels for years have paid radio stations via payola to get them to play their music in the first place). Well, the group organized by the RIAA to push this plan has found a professor to publish a study saying that radio actually makes people buy less music. This way, they can claim that radio actually is not a promotional medium for music. Of course, there are a ton of questions about the methodology of this. First of all, if this were actually true, why has the entire history of music radio included the recording industry payola to get songs played? If radio really wasn't promoting sales of records, then why would they keep doing it, even after getting fined over and over and over again. Clearly, the record labels know that there's a benefit in being on the radio. However, even if it is true that radio decreases the demand for albums, nowhere is it explained why this is a problem that the government should solve. Whether or not radio promotes album sales, it clearly promotes music and that opens up all kinds of opportunities for the musicians to make money. The fact that the record labels are unable to capitalize on that is a marketing problem -- which doesn't need a government-backed tax on radio stations to fix. Update: And W. B. McNamara shows up with an excellent explanation that could explain the numbers in the report that suggest it's not "radio" that decreased buying interest -- it's crappy radio, driven by radio consolidation and homogenization.
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