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Broadcasters Fight House Bill Requiring Song Royalty Payments
Wall Street Journal ^ | MAY 13, 2009, 5:10 P.M. ET | no byline in excerpt

Posted on 05/14/2009 2:15:53 PM PDT by a fool in paradise

Broadcasters are vowing to fight legislation requiring radio stations to pay royalties to performers, even as the recording industry and artist coalitions say the effort is gathering steam.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a modified version of a performance royalty bill that gives some exemptions to small broadcast stations.

Broadcast radio stations now pay song royalties to songwriters and ...

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: copyrightlaw; establishedlaw; fairuse; powergrab
This is something that has been established in the music industry since the beginning of radio.

Copyright law has been amended and appealed by Big Media for 100 years now.

Initially all money was in sheet music. If you recorded a song on a record or cylindar, you owed no money to the songwriter beyond the 50 cents you'd paid for the sheet music. Then as radio came along, record companies gave their recordings to stations to encourage them to play their songs (how else would you get a station to add your album to their library). This resulted in exposure for the song. The music industry's big fear was that recorded music was going to kill the careers of live musicians (especially those who were hired by stations for live broadcasts). There have been financial set asides from radio profits and album sales ever since the 1920s to keep live musicians funded. They still exist.

Big Media has extended the meaning of a "limited time" exclusive copyright to now be over 100 years (which means no one's lifetime) before works lapse into the public domain. It doesn't benefit the artists. It doesn't even benefit their families. The contracts were gulped up long ago and reside largely in the hands of a few self-interested corporations.

So now they want more money to make up for their own bad business decisions.

And where will it come from? Radio. Of course, notice above that there will be exemptions for some small broadcast stations (like Left of the Dial Left Wing hate radio). Pacifica and other commercial free stations use the public support (and listener donations) of independent music fans to stay afloat. Why should they be entitled to exploit the musicians any more than any other station? Is it because they are politically correct? Is it because they would go belly up with the expenses of the syndicated programming like Amy Goodman's Democracy Now if they had to pay for music AND talk programming?

1 posted on 05/14/2009 2:15:53 PM PDT by a fool in paradise
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To: 537cant be wrong; Aeronaut; bassmaner; Bella_Bru; Big Guy and Rusty 99; Brian Allen; cgk; ...

2 posted on 05/14/2009 2:17:45 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: a fool in paradise

I’ve got to disagee, I think performance royalties are long overdue.

The band works just as hard to create a recorded piece of music as the songwriter does. Yet when the recording is played on the radio (which benefits the radio station financially) only the songwriter is compensated.

It never made sense to me why the recording artist was not compensated for their work.


3 posted on 05/14/2009 2:24:27 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: Brookhaven
It never made sense to me why the recording artist was not compensated for their work.

For the band, it's called free advertising. No airplay, lousy retail sales.

4 posted on 05/14/2009 2:27:18 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (Bob Taft has soiled the family name for the next century.)
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To: a fool in paradise

I agree copyrights are too long. A better compromise would be to go back to the version of the old system (where you had to renew the copyright after a certain number of years.) Shorten the inital copyright period to say 25 years, then make people renew the copyright every 10 years FOR AS LONG AS THEY WANT, but make them pay a nominal fee (say $1000) to renew the copyright.

Stuff that isn’t making any significant money for the copyright holder (like many of the old books currently tied up) would be quickly released to the public domain. For items like the copyright on Micky Mouse, they could hold on to that forever (and we wouldn’t have Disney going back to congress every few years bribing them to extend the copyright on everything just so they can hold onto Micky Mouse.)


5 posted on 05/14/2009 2:30:41 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: Brookhaven

Because the band can play any song. Only the songwriter can write one. Disclaimer: my daughter is a BMI songwriter.


6 posted on 05/14/2009 2:32:50 PM PDT by manic4organic (We Are S0 Screwed)
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To: buccaneer81

“For the band, it’s called free advertising. No airplay, lousy retail sales.”

That was the origianl argument made with sheet music. “We’re giving you free advertising by playing your composition.”

Radio stations benefit by playing music. It’s not right that they benefit financially while the artist doesn’t.


7 posted on 05/14/2009 2:33:59 PM PDT by Brookhaven
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To: a fool in paradise

If passed the lawyers will get the money plus foreign corporations mostly. The music business is doing awful so they are extorting the radio stations which aren’t doing well either. This is just more RIAA money grubbing. Their lawyers and lobbyists are relentless

Isn’t it great to pass a law that brinsg you free money? The present system has been around for a long time and is good, it needs no changing


8 posted on 05/14/2009 2:34:15 PM PDT by dennisw (Your action becomes your habit. Your habit becomes your character, that becomes your destiny)
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To: Brookhaven

>>Radio stations benefit by playing music.<<

They aren’t exactly rolling in dough. “Music” radio stations come and co like restaurants.


9 posted on 05/14/2009 2:45:22 PM PDT by RobRoy (I'm wearing a cast on one hand. My spelling and clarity may not be up to par right now.)
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To: dennisw

There are also concerns among talk radio stations that play bumper music. They already pay (Rush will attest to this) but this allows them to double dip.

You don’t need to play a whole song to get paid. Never did. In the 1940s a band on radio (filling in a moment during a comedy radio show) would play cues from different songs to keep them in the “hit parade”.


10 posted on 05/14/2009 2:45:36 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: Brookhaven

You need to wake up to reality. Warner Music owns a share of many smaller companies. WEA is looking at a business model of permitting free downloads and then focusing their corporate share on a percent of endorsements, appearances, merchandise, etc. They would own a share in the celebrity of the artists in their stable and they’d give away the music.


11 posted on 05/14/2009 2:47:33 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: manic4organic

Disclaimer, BMI “got big” with country western (then called hillbilly music) and rhythm & blues (then called race records) and their hybrid (rock and roll) because ASCAP refused to publish such “rot” (all 3 genres were verbotten at ASCAP). When public tastes went to the publishing firm that DID meet the market demand, ASCAP wrongly blamed payola (when had been in the industry since day one) for no longer having hits on the charts.


12 posted on 05/14/2009 2:49:45 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: buccaneer81

lets see what happens when radio quits playing their stuff.


13 posted on 05/14/2009 2:50:19 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Brookhaven
Radio stations benefit by playing music. It’s not right that they benefit financially while the artist doesn’t.

Radio stations benefit by playing COMMERCIALS. The rest of the content is there to attract a listening audience. If the content isn't good, the advertisers go away...and so does the revenue.

14 posted on 05/14/2009 2:50:54 PM PDT by Myrddin
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To: a fool in paradise
There are also concerns among talk radio stations that play bumper music. They already pay (Rush will attest to this)

The best of free enterprise. Rush wants "My City Was Gone" badly enough to pay Chrissie Hynde $500,000 a year, and Hynde turns around and donates the money to PETA. Everybody gets what they want.

15 posted on 05/14/2009 2:51:26 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (Bob Taft has soiled the family name for the next century.)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
lets see what happens when radio quits playing their stuff.

That's a lose/lose for both parties.

16 posted on 05/14/2009 2:52:18 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (Bob Taft has soiled the family name for the next century.)
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To: Brookhaven
This debate is not unlike the age-old farmer/processor/distributor debate as to who produces the most value for the consumer and how the cost of the end product should be distributed. The artist/songwriter/recording band are in the role of the farmer while the recording industry takes the role of the processor and distributor.

In addition, you have the greedy corporations who own the copyrights far beyond what should be public domain.

Time-Warner is still collecting royalties on the Happy Birthday song written eight decades ago, for heaven's sake!

Now, I realize artist produce unique products and don't like to be compared to agriculture. In a former life, I worked for a company in Japan which actually tried to generate royalties for some of these artists.

One in particular had made a cute cartoon story which included some good music and characters which were entirely appropriate for pens, music soundtracks, keychains and other trinkets which we would sublicense to manufacturers to generate a modest stream of royalty income for the artist.

Since the story was seasonal (Christmas), our sales person in charge of the account talked to one of his contacts at a major hotel about doing a lounge performance of the music outside the large hotel ballroom where a fancy and pricey holiday dinner was being served. Some of the trinkets would be sold at a kiosk in the lounge and these were to help generate interest in these, and a bigger range of products sold elsewhere to boost the artist's royalty income. We were totally upfront with the guy and he agreed to the modest piano lounge performance as outlined.

A few weeks after the performance, we get a fax from his agent who (unbeknown to us) had flown to Tokyo and attended the performance. He wanted a share of everything in the vicinity of the performance-- the drinks sold in the lounge, the pricey Christmas dinner served in the adjacent banquet hall and about anything you could think of short of the hotel rooms sold for that night. He also told us the performance owed more because the permission was only for a piano performance, not for mixing with anything else such as the decor, sound effects, etc.

Long story short is that we told the agent to take a hike, had our legal department write a letter to emphasize the point and terminated our relationship with the artist. We were prepared for this kind of greed when dealing with your average Hollyweird agent and had the multiple contracts and papers to fend them off in advance. This guy, however, has seemed like a totally decent independent artist until he got this shyster involved and didn't have the sense to realize the modest sales he generated simply did not command that size of an ego.

17 posted on 05/14/2009 3:17:30 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Are there any men left in Washington? Or, are there only cowards? Ahmad Shah Massoud)
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To: a fool in paradise

The Democrats bail out newspapers like what just happened in Washington State but they have it in for radio, talk and otherwise.

Clear Channel is conservative and owns the most radio stations and syndicates some talk show hosts too (I think)


18 posted on 05/14/2009 3:20:01 PM PDT by dennisw (Your action becomes your habit. Your habit becomes your character, that becomes your destiny)
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To: dennisw

Actually, this sort of legislation is likely to cause more radio stations to turn to talk. And given that they are in business to make money, you can imagine what sort of talk they will feature.


19 posted on 05/14/2009 3:56:33 PM PDT by proxy_user
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To: Vigilanteman

Greed seems to be flowing out from every direction.

There is a new policy with record labels that is called a 360 contract. In this contract they want a piece of every thing that the artist does, not just record sales ... publishing, concerts, concessions, clothing lines, tv appearances (as an actor or on talk shows) everything! In other words, a percentage of your life belongs to the label.

We have a friend who was a manager for a number of top name artists, and she fought this type of contract tooth and nail.

We have another friend who is a well known artist who calculated that he was money ahead to make his own records and sell them to his fan club on the internet. He sold a heck of a lot fewer copies, but he made a heck of a lot more money per copy.

It is no wonder that labels are falling by the wayside.


20 posted on 05/14/2009 3:57:40 PM PDT by Grammy (It amazes me how much someone with character and integrity offends someone without.)
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To: proxy_user

Talk radio uses snippets for bumper music. These snippets can add up. Just listening and Sean Hannity played 20 seconds of “Achy Breaky Heart”


21 posted on 05/14/2009 4:27:49 PM PDT by dennisw (Your action becomes your habit. Your habit becomes your character, that becomes your destiny)
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To: proxy_user
...likely to cause more radio stations to turn to talk.

Nooooooooooooooooo!

I listen to radio for music.

If I want yammering, I turn off the radio, and turn on my wife...she's commercial free, and broadcasts without interruptions.

Bad-a-bing!

Thank you; order the veal, and don't forget to tip your waiter.

And come back tomorrow, and bring your friends; I'll be here all week.

22 posted on 05/14/2009 8:16:36 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (We have nothing to fear, except our fearful government itself.)
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To: dennisw

Clear Channel is more driven by money than conservative ideals. When Clear Channel bought out some conservative talk radio partners in Houston, the first things they did was fire the local hosts, bring in some boisterous carpetbaggers, say “No more God talk” “No more borning bill numbers” and generally fiddled about.

They bought up the contracts on some syndicated programs.

Fox isn’t conservative either. Being to the right of MSNBC and CNN is no brag.


23 posted on 05/14/2009 9:50:29 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: buccaneer81

And this could conceivably double that figure.

Perhaps he could find some band that has covered this song in a recording...


24 posted on 05/14/2009 9:51:55 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (If you like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, and the Post Office, you'll love govt Health Care)
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To: buccaneer81

The flip side of that is the one hit wonders with chincy contracts that don’t make money off record sales either. I saw an article about the Kingsmen, who made $5000 total off of “Louie, Louie,” and don’t get any royalties these days.

On the other side, I don’t think session guys should get royalty checks forever. They pay session guys royalties in the UK, so that the string players on “Eleanor Rigby” still get checks 43 years later, and are fussing that the checks may stop in seven years.

It’s a fine line. I want people to be justly compensated for their work, but there have to be fair use provisions as well.


25 posted on 05/22/2009 5:01:11 PM PDT by MikeD (We live in a world where babies are like velveteen rabbits that only become real if they are loved.)
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To: a fool in paradise
record companies gave their recordings to stations to encourage them to play their songs (how else would you get a station to add your album to their library).

This is how college radio works however commercial radio is essentially all one big commercial. Air play drives music sales so record companies find creative ways of paying radio stations to play their music. This is all very hush hush and it's hard to find information about promotional fees routed to radio stations, but this is how it really works. Satellite radio is doomed to fail because they don't seem to enjoy the same promotional income for some reason. Their business model is off.

26 posted on 05/23/2009 6:46:04 AM PDT by Reeses (Leftism is powered by the evil force of envy.)
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