Answer To Radio Music Royalties: Stop The Music

From the people who brought you suing their customers you now have "performance fees" for terrestrial radio.

Their argument goes: satellite and Internet must pay a performance fee, so the nation's AM and FM stations should, too. These extra fees -- in addition to music licensing charges -- could seriously impact the radio industry as it fights for a place in the digital world.

But what groups like Music First coalition are guaranteeing is their further demise as well.

The record industry is in worse shape than radio. This desperate last-ditch attempt to spit in the face of the broadcasters who gave these artists free airplay over the years is the final straw.

Suing customers and levying a surcharge on critical airplay is the same suicidal management that has gotten the music industry in trouble. It's how they lost market share and lost their future to a computer company named Apple.

While label and RIAA executives dream up new ways to generate revenue on the backs of others they are putting their own future in harm's way.

AFTRA, of course is supporting the royalties for the radio airplay movement.

NAB isn't.

NAB's position basically is that without radio, artists would still be performing in their garages. While that's powerful imagery it's just hot air because the NAB is fighting back without a weapon to get the attention of the musicians and labels. It's all talk and no implied action.

Radio stations should flex their muscles and the one area where they still make a difference is helping the record labels sell music.

I can't help thinking what would happen if radio united for a national day of "relief" from playing the same old songs over and over again and replace their playlists -- just for one little day -- with lots of new music that is available rights free.

A veritable nationwide "Stop The Music" protest, even.

Radio listeners would eat it up. Station ratings would go up. Radio might even attract some interest for a change from their younger listeners, the ones they are losing to the Internet.

Indeed, radio stations would make a lot of listeners happy. Finally, it takes an arrogant record industry to force terrestrial radio into doing what the audience wants anyway --more variety, less repetition, fresh music and artists.

And if radio had the guts, extend the national "Stop The Music" day to two days and really give the musicians and label execs something to think about.

The record labels are history anyway. None have showed any willingness to remake themselves in the real digital world in which most of their customers now live.

And the musicians -- the 100 or so who have so far stepped front and center on radio royalties -- should also feel the pain for without radio old dudes like Don Henley might be playing Chester, PA instead of the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia with the Eagles.

I've come to learn that blogging is pure fantasy. A lot of my readers ask how the ideas they read about and like can get legs. The sad truth is, they can't unless someone has the courage to act.

It takes resolve to put the music industry's latest outrage into its proper place and frankly, the terrestrial radio stations and their clever trade association don't have the guts.

That's why a negotiated settlement is more likely than a rebuff. And a negotiated settlement is the beginning of the end for radio.

And the labels and musicians need to get this message loud and clear.

We play your songs (and benefit from it) and you benefit directly by selling downloads, CDs, tours and merchandise. We're equal partners. Charging radio for the opportunity to make money is not going to happen.

To borrow and embellish a quote from Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan: "Record Labels and Musicians, how lucky do you feel?"

If radio stops the music, there is no record industry.


End of discussion.

Let's do it.

Say it. Mean it. Demonstrate it. Stop the music while these poor, misguided excuses for leadership get a well-earned time out to think it through.