The Suicide Attack By Record Labels

If we didn't already know how self-destructive the record industry can be using their past actions as a guide, you need only consider what they are trying to do right now that will really do them in.

In the bluntest language I can use (forgive me), the record labels are preparing a suicide attack on their good friends, the radio stations of this country. I call it a suicide attack because what they want to do -- if successful -- will not only hurt or maim the radio industry, still critical to their record selling ability, but kill will themselves off as well. Thus, a suicide attack.

Radio stations have for the past 75 years had free use of music. They have never paid record labels. They have never paid artists.

Satellite operators and Internet streamers are not so fortunate. The satellite networks pay for the use of music and so does the fledgling Internet radio industry.

The NAB is all over Congress now because it is their ox that may get gored.

And Congress, you may remember, brought you the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) which later gave way to the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) that is terrorizing the Internet streaming business with rates that could put all but the largest streaming companies out of business. In other words, Congress has a way of making matters worse. (Yes, I know what I just said. Of course they do.).

Excuse me, but shouldn't this be the other way around?

Radio stations should be charging record labels for exposing music on their airwaves and the high rotation it gives new and established artists. See, the way I look at it, the labels are the ones getting the free ride. It's true that radio gets to provide programming to its listeners when it plays music, but the labels profit directly (and have made huge profits over the years) thanks to terrestrial radio.

At the very least, the labels should leave well enough alone, because they are the ones who have the most to lose.

They are so busy turning their business over to lawyers that they can't see that they are making yet another blunder.

And, oh yes, if I'm losing money hand over fist as they say they are, I am looking to Internet streamers and satellite radio to help me do what radio did all those many years -- make money for the record business.

I can see the day -- and some of you may disagree with me -- when music will be driven by Internet exposure and social networks (it's already happening). Streamers may have no choice but to play music that is not protected by copyright to gain exposure.

If the radio industry had the brass to stand up to the ingrates at the record labels, they could shut them down faster than Steve Jobs will.

Can you imagine radio stations only playing non-copyrighted music submitted and approved by artists? Well, I can and it's going to happen.

Someone wake up the record execs and tell them that they haven't made a smart decision since they re-sold their catalog to a new generation of CD users.

The labels are the folks who have brilliantly brought you the RIAA -- and the concept of suing their customers.

And, burying their heads in the sand.

And, blaming Steve Jobs for outsmarting them (How many Apple executives does it take to outsmart a record label?).

Lawyers instead of strategists.

Hacks instead of entrepreneurs.

Consolidation instead of expansion.

Cutbacks instead of investing in the digital future.

No wonder the record labels want to make up for their mistakes by taking it out of the profits of their radio partners.

They are running out of people to screw.

And to borrow a phrase from a song one label made a lot of money off of thanks to radio airplay -- it's the end of the world as labels know it.

Sadly, this latest winner-take-all ploy to charge radio for airplay is just more evidence that the demise of the record label is right on schedule.