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.