It is NOT a TAX! Please Support the Performance Rights Act!

Radio in America has been given a free ride for over 80 years. Songwriters get paid when their songs are played on the radio, but the Performing Artists, Musicians and Producers ARE NOT COMPENSATED from Radio in any way. While the industry has lobbied for this MANY times over the 80 years, Radio has never been willing to negotiate, and used their tremendous lobbying power to prevent this from happening. I had my doubts about it actually happening this time as well, but then the Obama Administration actually came out in support of this yesterday. If you don't know how rare it is for politicians to take interest in artistic areas, read Mark Twain's autobiography to see how "the more things change, the more things just stay the same." But we need everyone's support. Please sign the MUSICfirst coalition's petition here: and then read on for other reasons this is important!

Sure the big Multi-Platinum Artists and Producers aren’t hurting for money, but they are NOT the only ones who benefit. As a songwriter I get some small royalty checks every year from a few sources that add up to a couple thousand some years. Not a fortune, but it goes a LONG WAY to helping me make my bottom line.

Here are some beneficiaries if the bill gets passed.

Musicians: Right now musicians (and background singers) get a fee for recording in the studio.  Once. More and more the unions have lost control, so that’s it. I have a friend who made almost $20,000 in Radio Performance Royalties for playing keys on a hit that went top 5 in several European countries. His original fee? Less than $1000. (European radio will not pay American artists, because the US is the ONLY country that doesn’t pay performance rights to artists…. I guess they missed that my friend is American…)

Songwriters: Many US artists are reluctant to record songs they didn’t write, or ask for “writing credit” on a song they are performing simply because it is the only way they will be paid. If artists can make money for radio play, I fully believe more artists will be interested in recording a hit… wherever it comes from. My evidence? The overseas market! Many more artists over there are willing to record songs they didn’t write.

Producers: Not every producer is getting paid $100,000 for a song. Under recording copyright, Artists and Producers split ownership of the Sound Recording Copyright. More and more smaller productions are breaking through due to the internet, and many producers have done their work for VERY little money. At least if something takes off, they can breathe, knowing they *might* make some money without a lawsuit! :)

Breaking Radio’s Anti-Bill Propaganda

Here’s what Radio wants you to think, and why it’s rubbish.

1. Radio says they are a promotional vehicle providing free exposure to sell albums.

Bulls%$t: Radio Stations are business that make money off advertising. Less than 20% of US Radio stations play predominantly NEW music in need of promotion. Most rely on established classics (recent or old) to attract their large audiences that advertisers are willing to pay $$$ for. Elvis, Patsy Cline, Bette Midler, Whitney Houston, Lena Horne, Rick Astley etc… are not relying on “radio promotion” for their old songs. And maybe THEY don’t NEED  any more money from Radio play (All those artists are known for singing OTHER people’s songs, thus are not being paid…) But think of all the great One-Hit wonders they still play on radio. I guarantee you many if not most of those artists would welcome a little bit more money each year (Not to mention the studio musicians, etc…) Maybe the average person doesn’t see it, but anyone in the business knows that Radio HATES playing new stuff… We laugh at this argument.

2. This will force more radio to switch to *Talk Formats*

What a crock. They would now if they could compete. Talk Radio is actually the number one format! But do you think they get all those shows for free? Of course not! They pay all those syndicated programs a LOT of money to air them.

3. Radio Can’t Afford this Now.

I can’t walk into an instrument shop and say,”I NEED this piece of gear to make a living. I can’t pay for it now, but I believe I’m entitled to take it for free, because I NEED it.” This is essentially the same thing radio has  said for EIGHTY YEARS. Do you want someone stealing your stuff… telling you they have a right to take it and not pay you because they can’t afford it? Radio’s been robbing us for years. Every other civilized country recognizes that the artists and musicians should be paid when someone profits from their work. The US is the only exception. Add in that recent reports for Terrestrial Radio are very positive, AND the fact that this will be phased in over three years… it is WAY past time to pass this. And there are many exemptions for small independents and non-commercial radio.

4. The Labels are Desperate and Greedy.

The US Radio AD industry is about 15 Billion Dollars. That is about twice what the recording industry is. Who’s being desperate and greedy?

Again. Please spread this around and sign the petition to voice your support here:

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3 Comments on It is NOT a TAX! Please Support the Performance Rights Act!

  1. Paul Stephens // April 3, 2010 at 1:00 am //

    The goal we all share – radio as a vibrant, creative medium, reflecting local communities, promoting (or at least trying out) new music and groups, and providing a good amount of local news and public affairs – has been almost entirely lost. What needs to be done is repeal the Telecommunications Act of 1996, prevent chains from buying up independent stations, etc.
    Without these policies, radio as a medium will continue to decline. Although I listen to public radio exclusively – broadcast or over the internet – I’m one of the few people I know who even listen at all. Without local personalities and catering to local listeners, most people would prefer to listen to satellite or their MP3 players.
    The big money is in TV and its advertising, and it has similar problems. Only quality programming which reflects local communities will revive broadcast media. I agree that the present system is unfair, but if it couldn’t be fixed when most people did listen to live broadcasts, what difference would it make, now?

  2. Have you ever worked in radio? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? This WILL kill radio… Maybe not the big stations that you’re thinking about that play those same songs 400 times a day, but the small intimate local stations or non-com stations, like the two I work for. If this bill is passed, both of my stations will go under, or WE WILL BE FORCED TO SWITCH TO TALK FORMAT, and no, we don’t want to switch to talk format, that might be where some money is, but that’s just one of the MANY formats there are in the industry. We wouldn’t “kill to be talk radio” because that’s a hard format to be! We play music because that’s what our listeners want us to do! And are you kidding me? We are promotional vehicles!! I only wish you could sit in on the music meetings we have in my station when we discuss how many new artists we want to play this week, and which ones fit our format. There’s so much work that goes into that decision. And you’re damn right SOME OF US can’t afford this right now! A.) We’re in an economic crisis, B.) It’s really hard to sell advertising when you’re in an economic crisis and people are constantly saying, “Sorry, we can’t do any advertising/underwriting with you because we’re losing money” and C.) We’re local stations which means we don’t make near the amount that the big wigs in big cities make.

    I’m not saying these artists are making tons of money or they are struggling to survive, but are they? Answer those questions? Do you really think Smashing Pumpkins is wondering where their next meal will be coming from? Do you think they wonder how many seats will be empty at their next concert? God no. But with radio stations, that’s a whole different story.

  3. We only have to balance the situation here..I understand both sides and their claims we only need to show the reality in here. I want to emphasizes that not all artist are lucky to be like Smashing Pumpkins and not all are looking for food daily let us not be blind by our own agenda.

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