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....

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    MadJo, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    How many lobbying groups?

    Has there ever been a tally of exactly how many lobbying groups the content industry actually owns?
    And the damage they are doing to our own culture?
    Music is not a commodity, and should not be treated as such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    DL, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 3:57pm


    ...we are all going to have to walk around wearing ear-plugs 24 hours a day, just in case someone, somewhere within earshot is playing music that we don't own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Just Passing Through, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:00pm


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Chutzpah!

    Or call their bluff: put some non-RIAA stuff onto your playlist. It takes the bullies down a peg or two and it gives artists outside the mainstream more exposure. Everybody wins.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    John Paradox, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    screw the RIAA, I'm over it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 9:06pm

    Bullet, meet RIAA foot

    I'm beginning to think I do not like music all that much anymore andt is not something that I really need . In these tough times I need to get rid of the useless crap and focus on necessities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Tony Coloff, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 11:48am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Steve, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Yeah listen, we're getting raped at the Pirate Bay trial so we were wondering if you could force other people to pay us more to make up the difference we won't be seeing when the Swedish court hands our ass to us in the next week or so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Tonsotunez, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:02pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Emilio Pastrana, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Next from the RIAA

    That's what we really need, ... some humor.

    Great post!


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Emilio Pastrana, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:46pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Tony Coloff, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    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???

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    TonsoTunez, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:48pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    TonsoTunez, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Angel, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 2:20am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Budgie, May 16th, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    little waf, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:35am


    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    little waf, Jun 23rd, 2009 @ 9:51am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    myron, Aug 30th, 2009 @ 8:48pm

    it our right to know what going on

    i the poeple need to stand now be for it to late and voice radio is for the blind to see what go on in world

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    beau, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:00am

    Radio sucks like a Hoover vac!

    WHO CARES! Radio stations play the same GARBAGE over and over and over and over and over anyway! I don't listen to the radio and really don't give a crap!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Re: it our right to know what going on

    You the people need to learn how to spell people!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    mimi, Jan 31st, 2010 @ 9:04am

    I don't care if all the radios die

    I don't listen to radios for years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Amie, Feb 19th, 2010 @ 2:40pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Bob Raymond, Feb 21st, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Re: Radio Station airplay

    A question will all of the smaller market radio stations go
    bankrupt becose of this tax.That is what I am hearing here in Texas,I used to live in Iowa.
    Bob Raymond

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.