Help Musicians: Fight Corporate Radio!

Fun fact: Elvis made no money from having his hits played on the radio. You see, although songwriters receive royalties from radio play, performers don’t. Think about it; for all the years you’ve heard “Louie, Louie” on the radio, Jack Ely and the Kingsmen never made a dime. (Any money they made would have been on record sales, and few people bought their albums for the sake of one song. In fact, Richard Berry, the song’s composer, offered to help out Ely, who was living in poverty.)

A bill currently in Congress, H.R. 848, is attempting to address this issue by requiring royalties be paid to the artists who recorded a song, as well as the songwriter. Needless to say, Big Radio opposes the measure, and has been running quite a few commercials lately, urging you to call your Representative, etc., to oppose H.R. 848. I’m urging you to call Senators Franken, Klobuchar, Kohl and Feingold, and Representatives Oberstar and Obey (depending on what state you live in) to SUPPORT H.R. 848.

Here are a few of the mis-truths corporate radio commercials are claiming:

  • This is a tax on radio stations. (No, it’s a royalty payment to performers.)
  • The money will go to big overseas record companies. (Only so that it can be distributed to the performers.)
  • This will kill independent radio stations. (Small, independent stations have an exemption.)

What really steams me is that this last argument was being made this morning on KDAL, a news station. Seriously! When was the last time KDAL played music?

There’s a pretty good op-ed on the Huffington Post today by Dionne Warwick about the bill. (She feels that the lack of performance royalties has hit black artists particularly hard.) The article can be found here.

Again, please call or e-mail your Reps and Senators to support H.R. 848, or at least call out the radio stations when they run their misinformation campaigns.

19 Comments

Danny G

about 15 years ago

The way I have seen this issue, you either support the big record companies or you support the big radio companies.


This whole deal is pretty nasty, as far as I'm concerned.

mevdev

about 15 years ago

I really don't know which side I am on (I am a performer and composer). Perhaps I support the performers, but it is a tossup as to who performed on what when and where. Composer is *always* listed.


Composers are getting royalties. Performers are getting paid for their performances.



When someone produces an album, let's take a 50's fake band, hired musician album. The producers pick musicians, hire them for money. They pick songs and get them released for play by the composers (if it is the first time they are being released by mechanical means(recording)). The producers take the risk of paying for all of these things and then create the album and sell it. They, hopefully, make their money back and for every sale the mechanical rights go to the composer, same with the broadcasting rights.


So in my case, the performers already got paid. They left the studio with cash in hand. The producers took the risk, the composers also. So who deserves the profits? Sure, I feel for these performers that were exploited, but they were adults and able to make their own decisions, they chose money up front!




Another case (better example):

Frank Zappa wants the London Philharmonic to play his music. He pays for practices, he pays for the performances, he pays for everything (recording ,etc) costing him millions. Frank produces the recording, pays for it to be duplicated, and takes all of the risk. During the negotiation process the orchestra demanded royalties and Zappa was enraged, and I can see why. (from memory of his autobiography)


Why the fuck should these asshats in the London Symphony get royalties from this album?

cnollet

about 15 years ago

Politics is always nasty. At least this bill attempts to get some royalties into the hands of musicians. Yes, it goes to the record companies to be distributed, and yes, record companies are evil as well, but it's a step in the right direction.

Danny G

about 15 years ago

I don't want to sound like a supporter of big radio or anything.  I am a fan of the medium, but the big-wigs who have ran the show have really run it into the ground the last couple of years.

However, what I don't like about this is the assumption that the personalities on radio are not considered performers as well.  Just like musicians, some radio performers are talented and some are not.  I think it's ridiculous and a bit prejudiced to assume that radio performers (DJ's, hosts, etc.) are not "artists" in their own right.  It's a matter of taste, really.  If something like this was going to go through it will ultimately make the radio talent suffer.

Resolutionary

about 15 years ago

What's bad for Clear Channel is bad for America.

Swan

about 15 years ago

"Louie Louie" was written by Richard Berry in 1955, and covered by Jack Ely and the Kingsman.

cnollet

about 15 years ago

Swan, you're correct. My point was that, eventually, Richard Berry was compassionate enough to share some of his royalties voluntarily with Ely. 

And Resolutionary, my impetus for writing this screed was I finally got tired of conglomerates like Clear Channel and Viacom using this bill to play the victim. If they're really concerned with local radio and promoting artists (which is one of their justifications for not paying said artists), they could actually promote LOCAL artists, rather than the ones the big record companies "encourage" them to promote.

Swan

about 15 years ago

Oops, got it.. did not read the last line of the first paragraph. 

I gave up on commercial radio many, many years ago. Somehow they have found a way to make it worse. I contribute to public radio station, really enjoy internet radio and love Pandora Radio for it is a great  way to hear the music you like and be introduced to music you have never heard. No commercials and the bands get a small royalty per play.

mevdev

about 15 years ago

Okay, sorry to post again, but this isn't about commercial clearchannel radio. This is about changing very longstanding copyright issues.

I read that Dione Warwick article and it didn't mention that she got paid for coming into the studio. Why didn't *she* work out that deal long ago? Did she need the money? Hell yes! She cashed that check! There is no F'ing way that she went into that studio and didn't draw a check. Sure, it may have been very little money, but she was paid. That article makes it sound like she went into the studio and did it for free and signed nothing leaving with nothing. She should have gotten rights to the recording. She is dumb not to have. It isn't about black people, it is about stupid performers. If she didn't understand what she was doing at the time, fine, but don't make it a huge race issue. 





I am no firmly against HR848 even though I rate any radio stations other than public radio (including college radio & the current, which both kick ass).

mevdev

about 15 years ago

Swan, You are right that Pandora pays the performers, but this was a very recent court decision.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/07/pandora-now-pushing-radio-to-pay-for-music-too.ars

Swan

about 15 years ago

Yeah, I aware of the recent internet radio royalty battles. I used to listen to Radio Paradise quite a bit and they were very vocal about the change of payment and their survival. 

I think internet radio is a win-win for listeners and artists/songwriters/performers. Most internet radio stations have a direct link to buy the music you are hearing. A recent example was the latest Son Volt album, I heard a new song, clicked the info and realized there was a new album I was unaware of, so I bought it on I-tunes.

As for the copyright issues each artist's cover of a tune is a new work of art and should get some, but not full, compensation for they did not create it, but only interpret someone else's creative work. But most artists playing other composers' music realize they will not make as much money as they would releasing their own material. This forces them to write better songs that will sell.

Sampling is a whole issue....

mevdev

about 15 years ago

Swan, so should the London Symphony get royalties for Frank Zappa's record of his music?

c-freak

about 15 years ago

don't be hating on my dionne.

mevdev

about 15 years ago

wtf, this isn't about payola. Does anyone actually read these writeups?

Danny G

about 15 years ago

Maybe zra is saying that they should go back to a payola system.

zra

about 15 years ago

sorry...*reverse* payola.

baci

about 15 years ago

stroke me stroke me

Todd Gremmels

about 15 years ago

When will the music world share and grow rather than destroy and conquer. 

Is not the idea of copy rights-free use thought of anymore and why is anybody making any money other than the artists that create the sonic tapistry and the performer.

Just a thought no offence.

Peace

Todd Gremmels

PS Nice Squire adage BACI

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