Music Radio: The Royalty Rat Pack

I thought it was bad enough when Eagles lead singer Don Henley demanded that radio pay additional performance taxes.

But now, the insult of all insults.

Nancy Sinatra, the unplatinum daughter of the Chairman of the Board is lobbying Congress along with other ingrates to see if Congress can do something. (Sorry about the imagery here – I think I wrote “Congress” and “do something” in the same sentence).

Let’s hope Congress doesn’t pass the necessary legislation to repeal the exemption for radio.

Now, I know I am going to hell for opposing a Sinatra. My mother, if she were alive today, would not be pleased.

She and I were born in Hoboken, New Jersey and no one knows better about Hoboken's famous export -- Francis Albert Sinatra. We lived on the same street. Of course, I was only a baby (as witnessed my picture, right?).

Still, I’m madder than hell.

No one seriously can argue -- let alone Nancy Sinatra -- that radio should have to pay one cent more to a recording industry that profited from every penny of the music it has sold from free radio airplay.

Her boots wouldn't have been made for walkin' if radio wasn't made for playin' music for free.

The ingrates argue that radio got free programming material.

That’s a weak argument based on what, say, Frank Sinatra and his record labels pocketed from all that airplay. If they gave me a choice I’d rather be Sinatra or his labels than radio.

We could really end this desperate move by rich record artists to earn even more by remembering what Sinatra, The Eagles – all of them – would have made if radio didn’t play their music.

How about – zero.

How about no platinum records. No gold. No silver. No tin. No junk metal. Nothing could be earned without radio airplay.


Radio has seen its better day – no doubt about it. Challenged by new technology, the Internet, seemingly endless competition and the next generation hooked on everything but radio.

Radio does not have enough young listeners to sustain its franchise. But there is no doubt that up until the last few years, without radio you don’t have record labels, rich artists, fat concert venues or extraneous merchandising money.

It’s simple.

Don’t play the Eagles and the Eagles wouldn’t have sold albums back when they were, well – The Eagles.

Don’t play Sinatra and that big franchise – the one his heirs most certainly have their eyes on when they lobby Congress – is poof – gone, vanished into thin air.

So, I propose some legislation of my own.

Lobby Congress for a retroactive performance tax called The All-American Music Moochers Act (has that Patriot Act sound to it, doesn’t it?).

This legislation would require every ungrateful record label to retroactively repay the nations radio stations the same tax they are seeking against radio. They can even pay it to a general fund and I’ll help divvy it up later.

Imagine the money.

And I’m here to tell you that it would still be a bargain for the labels because there has never been anything more cost effective than radio playing the labels music for free – especially when the labels and artists keep all the profits derived from that airplay.

I bring this issue up from time to time because even though the performance tax revocation isn’t likely to pass any time soon, the record label and artist ingrates will be at it every year.

Radio has been a good business. It has entertained a lot of people and made a lot of money for recording artists.

Radio deserves better than to be disrespected now at a time when it is fighting for its life -- especially by the record labels who got rich on the back of free airplay.

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