Does It Pay to Play? Artists Think So, Radio Stations Don't

As I listened to the radio in Columbus this past weekend, I heard this PSA from a radio personnel commenting on Congressmen, Black ones in particular, should not cosign with the new Performance Rights Act bill that would make radio stations pay the artists every time they play his or her song. I think to myself, "hmmm, let me look this up," and this is what I found:


Official Summary


Performance Rights Act - Amends federal copyright law to:

(1) grant performers of sound recordings equal rights to compensation from terrestrial broadcasters;

(2) establish a flat annual fee in lieu of payment of royalties for individual terrestrial broadcast stations with gross revenues of less than $1.25 million and for non-commercial, public broadcast stations;

(3) grant an exemption from royalty payments for broadcasts of religious services and for incidental uses of musical sound recordings; and

(4) grant terrestrial broadcast stations that make limited feature uses of sound recordings a per program license option.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall adversely affect the public performance rights or royalties payable to songwriters or copyright owners of musical works.

In short, the bill says it will be a law that every time a song is played on the radio, the radio station has to pay the artist. This bill provides a limit for and ultimately excludes the public broadcast radio stations, stations that broadcast religious services and the stations that hasn't made over $1.25 million in a year. This bill is still heavily debated between the RIAA (who almost everyone wishes they could pull an ACORN so the government does away with them) and radio stations (who almost no one listens to anymore).

Why is the legislation sticking their nose in music's business? The easiest answer off the top of the head would be this: IT'S THE GOVERNMENT, THEY CAN DO/WATCH/SAY WHAT THEY WANT!!!! ASK IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, VIETNAM, ETC. THIS IS ONLY A CAPITALISTIC COUNTRY AS LONG AS THEY SAY IT IS (nevermind). But seriously, the House of Representatives who presented this bill decided it was time to end the suffering of internet piracy for the artist/their songwriters. It is aimed at helping the artist get their compensation for the work he/she put in because the Internet, programs like Kazaa and LimeWire in particular, shows no love. So for the artists to get paid for disc jockeys to play their tunes is music to their ears.

What about the slowly dying radio stations? Of course most radio stations, thanks to this thing we call a recession, will be hit hard if this bill becomes a law. Quite a few stations I have personally categorized will be hit hardest: the station that plays only five songs an hour 15 times, the local non-profit talk station, and the Black station. Well, the station that plays the same five songs about 15 times an hour will be handing these five (well really three) artists a fat, FAT check. A check that they may have, but in result will have to let go some of its employees. And the local non-profit talk radio stations, that usually play songs they dig out of their own crates or even play local artists, will hand more checks than their checkbook holds, and especially since this type of station is not in the best market for ads will have to let go some of its employees. As for the Black station, and this includes the oldies, gospel, and "hiphop/R&B" genres, this station has far less of an advertisement market than most mainstream stations (big city or not), and since they follow the same playing guidelines as the top 40 stations, then they will be making big checks to artists they can't afford. Resulting in them having to let go of some employees.

And yes, there is a pattern here.

My main concern for this bill is that it will drive out the disc jockeys, DJs, personnel, and so on, most of the people that I only listen to the radio for nowadays (because real talk, the music is lame). With all this money they will have to pay these artists, for their so-called "performance fee", they won't be able to pay their employees.

Plus, this makes no sense to pay someone for something they brought to you. Aren't radio stations an outlet for artists to advertise their talent anyway? This is like if a magazine pays its ad clients to put ads in their mag. Should Playboy pay Trojan for every condom ad Trojan puts in their magazine? Of course not. I understand the economy is tough, especially for artists. I just don't like the steps Congress is taking to help fix that. But most of their decisions they have made since Obama made office is not going in my "good job" pile honestly.

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