SoundExchange Is Right

John Simson, the executive director of SoundExchange, an industry organization that collects royalties for record labels and artists is right.

He wrote in a recent Inside Radio commentary "People should be fairly paid for the work they do".

I think what Simson means is that record labels and artists should be fairly paid for the work they do.

But radio stations should be fairly paid for the work they do -- sell the record labels' product.

In other words, while Simson is trying to put the squeeze on radio stations for additional performance fees, radio stations should be charging the labels and artists for all the free exposure and, dare I say, repetition that radio has always given recorded music.

It's getting dirty out there.

At the Senate hearings yesterday Senators Specter, Hatch and Leahy -- two Republicans and one Democrat -- were described by the MusicFIRST Coalition to be friendly to the labels' cause. In other words, they're being "credited" with admitting that the performance rights issue is important and that something needs to be done.

Here's Alice Peacock's disingenuous and overly cute rationale against the NAB argument in favor of all the free promotion radio is giving the music industry:
"Frankly, the promotion argument sounds a little silly. Last week I bought a pair of Nike shoes. I wear them everywhere—well, except to Senate hearings. With the Nike logo on my feet, I am probably promoting their brand wherever I go. Can you imagine if I decided not to pay for the shoes on the grounds that my promoting Nike should excuse me from payment? My refusal to pay would be called "shoplifting." But radio's refusal to pay artists is called "business as usual."
You see, Nike and other manufacturers get away with putting their logos on almost everything these days and instead of enjoying their free ride I guess they expect it. If consumers refused to wear shoes with a Nike logo adorned on them, maybe Nike would have to actually pay for more advertising to accomplish the same thing.

I always worry when your elected officials say a problem exists and something needs to be done about it.

My answer would be: kick them out of office. (Anyone paying attention here?).

SoundExchange is right that "people should be paid fairly for the work they do".

By the way, Simson's argument that former Supreme's singer Mary Wilson would be able to retire today from the success of songs like "Stop In The Name of Love" which played regularly on the radio is misleading to say the least.

It wasn't the radio industry that screwed Wilson out of her money. It was her record label.

Nice try.

(This guy Simson is playing the terror card better than George Bush. If radio doesn't pay more, poor artists are going to have their incomes attacked. It's the "pay them there so we don't have to earn the money here" argument).

Radio stations have promoted, played, replayed, featured, exposed and nurtured American music for as long as radios have existed.

I remind my USC students that the record industry was hell bent on stopping the free exposure of music back when phonograph records were first played on the air. Many people don't know or remember that the music industry then was also against radio playing their records. The labels thought it was tantamount to giving their music away for free -- not unlike their present paranoia about digital downloading as a curse instead of a promotional tool.

We should have listened to the labels way back then and saved them all that profit!

Should have said, "you're right, we won't play your artists anymore" unless you pay us first. No problem, we'll put a sponsorship announcement on the air and make it all legal.

Over the decades, radio stations have arguably made record labels and artists 100% of the profits they retained from sale of their vinyl and CDs. Radio just got the residue promotional value -- worth something, but not worth watching the labels walk off with all the profits.

Radio let the labels get away with this hijacking of profits that could not have existed without radio airplay.

There are a lot of things wrong in radio these days, but one thing that never varies is that radio stations exist to promote music and artists -- and they receive not one penny for it.

Hell, the labels aren't even good radio advertisers.

So before the geniuses Specter, Hatch and Leahy put their thinking caps on -- a dangerous site to conjure up in anyone's mind -- the radio industry should talk tough and mean it this time.

If the radio industry lets the labels get away with imposing even one percentage point of performance taxes, it deserves to preside over its own demise.

Stand unified.

Don't bluff.

It's high noon.

If the labels somehow win this battle, radio should show them that they in turn lost the war.

Stop playing all music until the tax is rescinded.

Then send the labels a bill for all the music stations have played over the decades -- retroactively.

The record business is out of business the day radio stops playing its records.

And if any wimpy radio people are worried that the labels will turn to the Internet, well, forgive me for laughing so hard. Record labels don't know what to do with the Internet now -- even while radio is playing their music for free.

I have the same piece of advice for each of the warring parties.

Labels, be careful what you wish for, if you get it you'll help kill off the free promotion machine known as terrestrial radio.

Radio, be careful what you wish for, if you get only a small tax on the music you play, the next inevitable step is a tax increase.

The only way to resolve this crisis is to get your "concerned" senators to go back to work on judges, attorneys general, ending the war, universal health care -- you know, minor issues.

Then put both sides in a room with Steve Jobs and he'll tell them how bad it is really going to be for both of them since they will be, in effect, fighting over the carcass of the old music distribution system.

Then, maybe they'll sober up.

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