5 Reasons Why the Performance Rights Act is a Bad Idea

Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by in MUSIC INDUSTRY

billycorganFor those who aren’t familiar with the Performance Rights Act, it is a bill that was introduced in February that would require radio stations to pay performance royalties in addition to fees they already pay to songwriters. The RIAA, along with a few big names such as Billy Corgan (pictured), is pushing this bill under the pretense that it benefits the artists and that the industry needs it to survive.

The problem is that their claims simply are not true. The Performance Rights Act would have potentially disastrous consequences across the music business, and I’ve put together a quick list that explains why.

1. The Performance Rights Act would cripple local radio

The PRA is basically a new tax on radio stations that would be paid directly to the recording industry. This fee is already being paid by Internet, satellite and cable radio stations, and has caused the untimely demise of more than one service providor since it went into effect in 2002. What makes congress think that local radio stations will be able to avoid the same fate?

Jesse Walker of ReasonOnline also pointed out recently that the fees themselves aren’t the only costs that this bill would impose on radio stations:

“The record labels are completely out of touch as to how college radio stations operate,” Warren Kozireski, president of College Broadcasters Inc., recently complained on his organization’s website. “The extensive record keeping requirements that will be required by the Copyright Royalty Board alone will add hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to the true cost of a performance fee.” It’s relatively easy to do that book-keeping if you have a narrow playlist and rarely deviate from it, as is the case with most large commercial radio stations. But if you have a library of thousands of albums and 45s, many of which were never reissued on CD, and if you allow your DJs to choose which ones they play—or even to bring in still more music from their personal collections of rare soul or jazz or bluegrass or electronica obscurities—then tracking the data suddenly becomes a full-time job.

2. The PRA hurts independent artists

I’ve heard some supporters of this bill touting that the independent artists have the most to gain. This is because the money would go to performers and copyright owners, which in the case of independent artists are the same thing. Therefore, the PRA would provide a  potentially significant revenue stream for the artist. Right?

In a perfect world, maybe. But in this world playlists at major stations are chosen by advertising dollars, not DJs. Adding an additional fee for every song played will only make stations even more unwilling to take risks on unproven acts. Independent acts have a hard enough time getting on major stations – they don’t need another hurtle.

3. Payola

Payola, for those who don’t know, is an illegal but very common industry practice where agents of the record labels bribe radio stations to broadcast their music. As Mike Masnick of Techdirt puts it:

The most damning argument against the recording industry’s demand for money here is the fact that, for decades, the industry has (illegally) had the money go in the other direction. The system of payola has shown, quite clearly, how much the recording industry values airtime, in that it’s willing to pay radio stations to play its music.

So, can anyone explain why it’s illegal for record labels to pay radio stations to play music, but it’s okay for Congress to force radio stations to pay the record labels for playing their music? It defies common sense.

In other words, the RIAA values the promotional benefits of radio airtime so much that it’s willing to break the law and pay out large amounts of cash to get it, yet it now wants the radio stations to start paying them for the privelidge of providing  this benefit. Make sense? Didn’t think so.

4. The bill is based on misinformation

According to a recent press release by the musicFIRST Coalition - a lobby group created to push for the PRA  – Radio should pay performance royalties because it is the only platform that currently does not. They accuse brodcasters of believing that “AM and FM music radio stations should continue to get special treatment, that AM and FM music radio stations do not have to play by the rules, and that AM and FM music radio stations should enjoy a competitive advantage over other music platforms.”

The problem is that they are ignoring the fact that they were the ones who created this disparity. When the other platforms such as online streaming were required to pay performance royalties it had everything to do with controlling the reproduction of digital music – a problem not shared by terrestrial radio. As Jesse Walker points out, the industry’s argument “hinged on the idea that digital broadcasting is different from conventional broadcasting. Forteen years later, as it attempts to impose a performance fee on AM and FM broadcasters as well, the industry now wants to claim the channels are equivalent after all.”

5. The PRA doesn’t benefit musicians as much as the RIAA claims

I already talked about the ways that independent musicians would be hurt by the PRA, but what about bigger acts? The problem here is that the royalties would be paid to performers and copyright owners, which in most cases are the major record labels.

After the label takes its cut, there remains the issue of whether or not the rest of the fee will ever reach the artist. To quote Walker:

The Web radio experience is instructive. The institution that distributes performance fees to artists is SoundExchange, an organization that spun off from the Recording Industry Association of America in 2003. In 2007, the Houston Press noted that the group was apparently unable to locate about 25 percent of the performers on whose behalf it was allegedly acting. After perusing the list of lost musicians, the Press‘s John Nova Lomax reported that “in less than five minutes of Googling, I found the official Web sites and/or MySpace pages of Fito Olivares, Goudie, Mark May, the Hollisters and Los Skarnales. What’s more, highly visible people like Cam’ron (fresh off a highly-publicized appearance on 60 Minutes), Fat Joe and Danzig are on the ‘lost’ list too.”‘

Conclusion

I want artists to have the ability to make a good living creating music, but this is not the bill to make that happen. The Performance Rights Act amounts to little more than a last ditch manuever by a flailing industry. What do you think? Does the bill make sense, or will it cause more harm than good?

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47 Responses to “5 Reasons Why the Performance Rights Act is a Bad Idea”

  1. Eugenia

    17. Jun, 2009

    Is this law applicable even for differently-licensed music than the traditional way, e.g. Creative Commons?

  2. refe

    17. Jun, 2009

    I don’t think so.

    In fact, I’ve seen a few bloggers heralding the PRA as a potential boon for CC material, but I’m not sure that’s realistic. It’s much more likely that stations would simply fill time with a lot more talk and a lot less music.

    • spinmeister

      17. Jun, 2009

      In my blog I mentioned a potential boon for non commercial stations and possibly stations at the edge of profitability – not so much the top 40 or classic rock big time commercial stations. And I had also mentioned the record keeping requirements as being a potential difference maker. So at least in my blog I was hoping for a potential boon mostly in not-for-profit radio, who generally don’t have ad revenue.

      More talk-radio has been a long standing escape mechanism for commercial radio – it remains to be seen if the dynamics in non commercial radio lead to the same talk-radio escape, or if CC music becomes a more viable alternative. Especially the BY-NC pool of music has some very good music, which would seem to be easily accessible to NC radio as long as each DJ attributes on the spot.

      Interestingly enough, non commercial radio could also pick up entire CC-BY-NC podcasts.

  3. Eugenia

    17. Jun, 2009

    I don’t see why they wouldn’t play CC music though if it’s free. Some of that stuff are really good. Some not so. And some, are good, but not pop.

    • Sybil Augustine

      06. Jul, 2009

      That seems very naive to me. DJs want to play the music they like, that they feel sounds good right now, that people are talking and writing about. They will NOT put an unknown artist on when the new Sonic Youth or Beck or Christian McBride or Vieux Farke Toure album is out. And how do we explain to bands coming to town that we can’t play their music to help promote their show? We would lose thousands in support from local promoters and businesses, as well as the respect of bands and musicians both local and global. It does not matter how good the CC music is, unless all the major well-known artists have stuff on there too it will never get much play.

  4. refe

    17. Jun, 2009

    That’s a huge shift for an industry that’s been doing the same thing the same way for a long time.

    Think about it – would the advertisers stick around? Because avoiding the PRA fees wouldn’t reduce their costs, it would just bring them back to where they were pre-PRA. Ad revenue would somehow have to remain consistent, even though they would be playing less mainstream music.

  5. Eugenia

    17. Jun, 2009

    Here’s the part you leave out though, or you are not aware of:

    Please, do watch this video from 4:58 minutes onwards (for another 4 minutes or so). You don’t have to watch it all, just make sure your cursor is at 4:58 and then start watching from that point on.

    I think the answer is right there: what is happening now, it has happened before. And it will happen again.

  6. refe

    17. Jun, 2009

    @spinmeister – You make a great point. If a station is not supported by ad-revenue than they are probably already using non-mainstream material as it is, so this is just more incentive to continue doing so. My comment was more in reference to mainstream radio. Although to be honest I am much more concerned about local radio than the likes of Clear Channel ; ).

    @Eugenia – Great video, thanks for the link. Larry Lessig has a host of great ideas that should be paid attention to. Although he couldn’t have been talking about the PRA he certainly may as well have been with his BMI illustration. Amazing how history repeats itself.

    The biggest thing that needs to happen is that more artists need to step up to the plate and stop playing this game. Billy Corgan and many others have sided with the RIAA because they think the bill will put more money in their pocket, or maybe under the conviction that they are somehow being cheated by radio (a position that this article hopefully does a good enough job of dismantling.)

    An alternative like CC can only work in the long run if enough quality music is released under that type of license.

    • spinmeister

      17. Jun, 2009

      p.s. I forgot to mention in my previous post how much I agree with your points. The RIAA is acting like the drowning man, who flails arms and legs so much that he knocks out the swimmer who is there to rescue him. In this case one rescuer after another. This one is just the latest in a long string of suicidal moves. The payola argument is a classic – well said!

      • refe

        17. Jun, 2009

        Wish I could take more credit for it!

  7. refe

    17. Jun, 2009

    By the way – did you notice that the Lessig video is CC Non-Derivative? Most of the presentation is about the value of the consumers freedom to remix, yet the video can’t be remixed? It’s a TED policy, not a Lessig policy, but still found it funny.

    • Eugenia

      17. Jun, 2009

      Lessig was on a popular TV talk show recently, and while the TV show has the full copyright protection, Lessig encouraged remixing of his appearance on his blog, and many people took on the job, even with the network asking for take downs!

      • spinmeister

        18. Jun, 2009

        There’s a CC sponsored remixing site with all CC content with a vibrant community and also much loved by video makers and podcasters: http://ccmixter.org/ and yours truly was one of those who submitted a tongue-firmly-in-cheek remix of the Lessig interview on the Colbert Report: http://ccmixter.org/files/spinmeister/18763 :-)

        I chose the little background melodies to make the point, that some of the best music ever made is not encumbered by overzealous copyrights. (I’m not anti-copyright per se, but in favor of copyright reform including much shorter copyright terms).

        More seriously, one of the better entry points for the quality of music you can find at ccMixter.org are the “Cool Music” podcasts hosted by MC Jack In The Box: http://ccmixter.org/view/media/playlists

        Disclosure: I’m one of the volunteer admins at ccMixter.org

  8. Eugenia

    17. Jun, 2009

    >An alternative like CC can only work in the long run if enough quality music is released under that type of license.

    Have a look at Jamendo, the main CC music site: http://www.jamendo.com/en/
    They have 21,000 albums. I am sure some of it at least is good. :)

    I only use a sub-section of CC for my videos, music licensed under the CC-BY only. There are only 560 albums licensed under that specific CC clause (most are CC-BY-NC-ND or CC-BY-SA). And yet, I always found the right music for my videos. So when the selection is 21,000, I am sure a given radio station can fill up its time with several genres and music. Plus, they could make deals with non-CC indie artists, it doesn’t have to be all CC.

    What I am saying is that there’s life after RIAA. All it needs is managers and DJs have the balls to not use their music.

    • Sybil Augustine

      06. Jul, 2009

      For a noncommercial community radio station like us, it’s not about having the balls to not use their music, it’s about the fact that nobody will understand why we can’t play whatever we want anymore and they’ll just stop listening to, and thus supporting, our station. Then we’re just toast.

      I would much rather take the other alternative, and stop webstreaming our music programming. That will also hurt us greatly in terms of local as well as global listenership, and is not the fair or right answer to this problem. College and community stations who rely upon volunteers for most or all of our programming should simply be exempted from most of these reporting requirements.

  9. refe

    18. Jun, 2009

    “There’s life after the RIAA.” – Let’s hope so!

  10. Michael

    18. Jun, 2009

    If the PRC becomes law, then radio should just take what we have been giving the labels and artists for free and start charging them.

    Pay for play is legal as long as it is announced as sponsored content. If the labels had to play for every spin of every U2 song that radio played, I think things would be a little different.

    Since Radio and Records began it’s been a very symbiotic relationship. Each side benefiting from the other in roughly equal measures. PRC tips the balance greatly in favor of the labels

    The worst part of the whole mess is that most artists won’t see any of the money radio would pay. Sound Exchange and the labels would manage to keep most of it just like they always have.

    The artists have never been treated fairly by the labels, what makes anyone think that this will change anything.

    • Hannah

      20. Jun, 2009

      To that last part of your comment, I say, “Amen.” Amen to all comments and points in the entry itself, in fact.

  11. Kevin Hunter

    23. Jun, 2009

    The last time we had this argument, back in the seventies, mangers and artists were told that anyone who claimed any royalties from AM radio would be blackballed and lose all airplay from the major Top 40 stations who at that time were the hit makers. We all backed down. Seems to me there could not be a better time to have them pay up. Music publishers and their songwriter clients were way ahead of the curve in making sure radio went through their licensing process so they would get paid. It is time for performers and copyright owners to do the same. By the way there has been a similar law on the Canadian books for a over fifty years with labels there afraid to start any collection process.

    • refe

      23. Jun, 2009

      You haven’t responded to a single issue that the article brings up, and in fact you seem to be making one of my points for me. If radio play is so valuable to artists and labels that they wouldn’t even collect royalties that the law provides them for fear of losing the promotional value of airplay, what makes them think that they should be paid to be given that service?

  12. Reid Hyams

    23. Jun, 2009

    As I stated in my response in LinkedIn 6/23/09:

    You make some good / excellent points. I support PRA, but have always stated that there are problems with it that need to be addressed to really make it work in the artist’s favor. I’m not against the bill, but it certainly needs some fine tuning and to be more thought out.

    Some trepidations that I have are that many of these stations will close because they cannot afford to pay, while others revert to talk radio. Another is the collecting of the monies… will the artist really get it or will a large portion go directly to the label to recoup their costs – which is generally a part of all standard record contracts. Publishing performance royalties have (in general) always been separate from the royalties for the production (etc.) of the master recording by the label. Yes, of course many artists do publishing deals and or some publishing is part of the record contract… the question is, in this case, does the label recoup the PRA monies as part of their agreement with the artist or what?

    These are important points to consider and need to be addressed to make this work. Again, I support PRA – I support the artists, yet I see problems with it that need to be worked out…

    • refe

      23. Jun, 2009

      I appreciate that you are trying to look out for artists, and that you are willing to take an honest look at the PRA. The point I am trying to get across is that despite RIAA rhetoric, supporting artists and supporting the PRA are not the same thing.

      As you note in your comment, there is a lot of question as to whether this bill will actually help artists at all. The way that it’s written reads a lot more like it has been designed to provide the major labels with a new revenue stream now that their CD-focused business model is declining.

      Perhaps there are changes that need to be made in the recording industry/broadcasting industry relationship, but as I stated in the article, this is not the bill to make that happen.

  13. Johnnie

    23. Jun, 2009

    The performance rights act is about properly compensating the artists and the holders of the recording copyright. The degree to which the artist or the copyright holder gets compensated is up for debate, but let’s look at the core issue:

    Broadcasters use the master recordings to: 1) Make money from advertising, and 2) Promote their stations by airing on air promos using songs, and by playing songs that fit into a format (in other words, the fact that a rock station plays Nirvana and Sublime on a regular basis is an implicit promotion for that station–i know that if I want to hear that kind of music again, I will tune into that station).

    Number 2 has been almost completely overlooked in the discussion of the PRA, and it attacks the core of the argument against it. That is, radio provides free promotion to the artists and labels and thus no additional compensation for the artist or copyright holder is required. But if radio is using songs to promote itself AND using songs to bring in advertising revenue, then the relationship is clearly not equal.

    • refe

      23. Jun, 2009

      Johnnie – thanks for the comment, that’s an interesting argument.

      As far as I can tell, though, the PRA does not address what you are talking about in your #2 point.

      You could argue that if broadcasters want to use copyrighted material in self-promotion they should be required to pay performance royalties, (and perhaps they should) but that really isn’t what the PRA does.

      The PRA would require any use of a song on the radio to incur an additional fee – whether in normal rotation or in a promo spot or something else.

      And again, I’ve got to come back to the payola issue. Why, if the relationship between radio and record label is so unfair would the record labels continue to go so far as to break the law to shell out large sums of money to get their songs on the air? It’s the labels themselves that contradict your reasoning.

  14. [...] forward thinking musicians have presented a simple and elegant five point list denoting “Why The Performance Rights Act is a Bad Idea.” The aforementioned Mr. Tuma authored the list. I highly advise reading this post and adding [...]

  15. Johnnie

    24. Jun, 2009

    Refe,

    But my argument is that all broadcast of music by a station is, in itself, promotion for the station. This includes music used for promotions and normal music played.

    Every major station has a format that they program for that includes a particular kind of music, and in general, a particular set of artists. If I like Tom Petty and I know the stations that are going to play Tom Petty, or music like him, I will tune into those stations. The format, and the music that it includes, is the promotion for a station.

    To your point on payola: payola has been illegal for a long time and it’s impossible to know how much activity has been going on since it was made illegal. True, there was rampant payola in the 1950s, but this hardly can be used to prove that labels do it regularly today. Further, through the PRA, money is going to be paid to the artist who doesn’t have a role in payola.

    It comes down to this question: is the promotional value artists and copyright holders receive from airplay of their songs, always greater than the value broadcasters receive from playing them? Sometimes? Yes. Always? No. And certainly not with the vast amount of stations that play older songs that have little promotional value left to gain by the artists or copyright holders.

    • refe

      24. Jun, 2009

      Why would older songs not benefit from the promotional value of radio play? No one is stopping those acts from continuing to make their records available or continuing to perform live.

  16. refe

    24. Jun, 2009

    Regarding payola, here’s a good article to start with – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/25/AR2005072501624.html

  17. Johnnie

    24. Jun, 2009

    Refe,

    There could be promotional value in playing an older song or there couldn’t be. Promotional value is certainly lowered for an older song because the public already is familiar with it. The song has been exploited and the majority of the money the artist/copyright holder is going to make off of it has already been made. Additionally, not all artitsts still perform, so this area of promotion is irrelevant for them.

    Playing older songs on radio (and I include bands such as Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins in this), in general, has a greater monetary benefit to the radio station playing them than it does a promotional value to the artists and copyright holders. Promotion isn’t always consistent. The PRA is a way to balance out this inconsistency.

    And back to payola, the only thing your article proves to me is that the government is prosecuting cases of payola. This is how it should be. The fact that the PRA is also supported by labels who have been guilty of payola doesn’t mean all labels are guilty of payola, and doesn’t even mean Sony BMG practices payola anymore, either.

    To end, I’d like to ask you why you think CBS has to pay the NCAA to broadcast college basketball? By the logic of the anti PRA campaign, CBS shouldn’t have to pay because CBS is promoting college basketball and the NCAA by broadcasting their games.

    • refe

      24. Jun, 2009

      I want you to understand that I don’t necessarily disagree with many of the points you have made, and I certainly don’t disagree with your desire to see artists compensated fairly. Yet while the PRA may accomplish some of the things you want to see happen, in it’s current form it will create many other problems that will likely hurt both industries.

      Just because there is a bill that attempts to solve a problem, doesn’t mean that it is the right solution.

      One thing that does encourage me, though – if you read recent amendments to the bill, most of them are focused on specific situations that require exceptions or modifications to the terms of the original bill. That means that people are realizing that there are issues with the PRA and are trying to address them.

      There are a surprising number of politicians opposed to this bill (given their usual support for the RIAA,) and hopefully their voices will be a catalyst for further improvements. I’m not sure that those improvements would be enough but one can hope, right?

  18. [...] more than require royalties for every song played on the radio, has been written about on its own merits in many places.  I don’t have to go into those here.  But the idea that the property defined by a song lasts [...]

  19. jim mcdermott

    28. Jun, 2009

    Wow, your post sounds straight out of the Corporate Radio playbook. Poor radio! The huge conglomerates that play almost no new artists, that speed up records to make more advertising airtime available, that have been using the same hackneyed methods of communicating to their audience that no one who isn’t trapped in a car ever listens to it.

    1) Performance Rights will cripple local radio

    What IS local radio anyway? How many stations out there aren’t part of a larger, multi-region or national group? Perhaps the bill should be modified to allow a reduced rate for stations that fall under a certain revenue limit. But let’s face it, most radio stations with any real listenership were grabbed up by corporations long ago. And these corporations aren’t particularly concerned with the “local radio” thing – if they were, why would so many stations be programmed at a corporate level, instead of having local PDs like in the old days?

    2) PRA hurts indie artists – what a joke! So much of radio is recurrent – it is complete poppycock to suggest that radio supports indie or even developing, major label artists. Those days are long gone.

    3) Payola: in the days of LPs (then CDs), airplay would encourage sales of physical product. Radio people figured out ways to be compensated for airplay, whether via cash, hookers, lobster dinners, cocaine or advertising dollars. Labels knew airplay was necessary for sales.

    Now, when people hear a song they like, many simply get the track for free on a file sharing service. Most of the great independent and chain retail stores have long since gone out of business (with a few noticeable exceptions.) There are very few places to buy a CD. This, combined with the fact that radio playlists are filled with so many recurrent records, means that the promotional value of radio is far less than in days past.

    It’s a completely different world out there these days, and radio is still stuck in the 1970s. In almost every other country in the world, radio pays a fee for performance rights. Why should US radio be granted an exemption? Untold hundreds of millions of dollars have been saved over the years because US radio was not required to pay these fees. They are WAY ahead of the game, but the greed never stops.

    Personally, I’d prefer if the money generated by these fees flowed straight thru to the artist, so musicians benefitted more directly. But I worked in the business long enough to know that the labels will have the monies collected first applied to an artist’s balance.

    Radio is flailing just as much as the record labels. But apparently, the have better lobbyists.

    • refe

      28. Jun, 2009

      Funny, your response sounds like it was ripped straight from an RIAA pamphlet.

      It’s one bloated, evil corporate community trying to step on another to keep their head above water for just a little bit longer. Artists will be the last ones to gain either way – except that if the PRA passes many others will be caught in the collateral damage as well.

    • Sybil Augustine

      06. Jul, 2009

      You need to differentiate between Commercial and Corporate stations, and noncommercial radio. Almost none of what you said applies to stations like mine. For example, you say:

      “What IS local radio anyway? How many stations out there aren’t part of a larger, multi-region or national group? ”

      There are hundreds, if not thousands, of college and community radio stations as well as larger public stations and small, low-power FM stations in the United States. I don’t have a complete list for you because we’re all TRULY independent and locally based. There are several other Linked-In groups where we discuss these issues and more, as well as the Grassroots Radio Coalition and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters [which has been around for over 35 years.] Our station’s been on the air for over 33 years and is a cornerstone of this community. Just because you are not aware of these stations doesn’t mean they don’t exist or are not important.

      “Perhaps the bill should be modified to allow a reduced rate for stations that fall under a certain revenue limit. But let’s face it, most radio stations with any real listenership were grabbed up by corporations long ago.”

      Exactly = with the vast majority of our income from listener sponsors, it’s impossible for us to afford the same rates as commercial stations; and with all on-air personnel being volunteers, it’s impossible for us to force compliance with these regulations. It’s a digital divide issue — this conflicts with our mission to provide access to diverse populations because everyone here doesn’t use a computer. So WORT and other stations like ours SHOULD be exempted because according to you and most industry calculations, we don’t have any “real” listenership….just enough to support us and keep us on the air for the past 3 decades or so. This would all change if this law is enforced the same across the board.

  20. jim mcdermott

    28. Jun, 2009

    Ha, strike a nerve there Refe?

    Actually, I don’t need a pamphlet and neither does anyone else. Terrestrial radio sucks, and even if the labels died tomorrow, radio would still come up with excuses not to pay the artists. Not only should this bill pass, but in a fair society, radio groups would be forced to pay reparations.

    • refe

      28. Jun, 2009

      Good luck with that.

  21. jes

    13. Oct, 2009

    1. buy a computer. All of our local SF Bay area college stations (KALX, KFJC, KUSF) have their playlists available online usually within minutes of play.
    2. when are independent artists played on Middle of the dial radio anyway? i don’t see any changes that will happen within the stations already guided by advertising dollars.
    3. what an idiotic argument, it’s like saying “if it was bad for the US Government to take the wealth from Native American lands, shouldn’t it be equally bad for the Native Americans to demand retribution?”
    4. Stating that a reassessment of one’s position is misinformation is itself misinformation. It’s not based on misinformation, it’s based on reassessment of the initial problems.
    5. Most musicians in the post-John Fogerty world are well aware of holding their own copyrights. “in most cases” copyright holder is the major label only for artists who signed it away on major labels, not for independent artists at all. Many times the advantage to an artists being on a major label is the money up front, that they get paid to make their records in exchange for money the label collects on time. If an artist goes for that, why do we have to have sympathy for them?

    • refe

      13. Oct, 2009

      I always appreciate thoughtful responses that make use of the word ‘idiotic!’ By the way, have you read the follow-up post? It fills out some of the ideas here in a bit more balanced way.

    • Sybil Augustine

      07. Dec, 2009

      1. …”if you have a library of thousands of albums and 45s, many of which were never reissued on CD, and if you allow your DJs to choose which ones they play—or even to bring in still more music from their personal collections of rare soul or jazz or bluegrass or electronica obscurities—then tracking the data suddenly becomes a full-time job.”
      to which JES says:
      1. buy a computer. All of our local SF Bay area college stations (KALX, KFJC, KUSF) have their playlists available online usually within minutes of play.

      But you’re talking about COLLEGE STATIONS, where people are volunteering and/or getting college credit for things they do at the station, including typing in playlists. We don’t have those kinds of volunteers here at our COMMUNITY STATION [Which, seeing the lack of response to my comments, virtually nobody on this list even knows or cares about--I won't let that stop me.] Colleges have large staffs and tons of money to fund their stations, they don’t have to go on-air and ask for donations. We’re still struggling with our one IT guy to design a playlist to type in that will meet SoundExchange requirements; and then I’m going to struggle to find volunteers willing and able to properly type in other people’s playlists and track the data. We can’t hire another full-time staff person to do that, we already had to cut our benefits and COLAs and are operating at a large deficit for the first time in eighteen years.

      I guess it’s not worth my looking at this thread anymore since all you people want to do is argue about corporate radio and payola. But please try to bear in mind when you talk about this, not ALL stations are in the same position.

  22. [...] siphon about $500 million in revenue away from them and back to the record labels. They’ve argued that the act would cripple local radio and force many stations to cut jobs. Artists argue that the [...]

  23. Reid Hyams

    08. Dec, 2009

    Did it ever occur to anyone that payola is not really dead, and that when the PRA becomes law, the record labels will just up the payola to cover the PRA expenses…

  24. [...] performers should be compensated fairly, but say ‘no’ to the bill because they claim that the record labels will truly enjoy the revenues from the proposed license fee increase, not the artists. Society is [...]

  25. Deuce

    18. Apr, 2010

    Regarding costs I simply cannot understand that argument against the PRA.

    For stations grossing less than $50,000 per year, the fee is $100/year according to the Senate version. $100!!!!!! WHAT ARE YOU WHINING ABOUT?! Given the minimum is much higher in the H.R. version but I imagine the Senate amendments to be accepted without argument.

    You claim reporting criteria will increase costs by thousands… give me a break. Having a DJ on an excel spread sheet is going to add thousands of costs to the local or university station? I highly doubt it.

    You claim this will not provide a great enough benefit to be worth the detrimental affect on stations. I again have to disagree. Economies of scale make fractions of a dollar add up quickly and significantly. Ask Sound Exchange which currently has a backlog of millions of dollars waiting for their recipients to register with them.

    I am trying to be open minded and unbiased but I have the bills right in front of me and I do not see an Apocalypse on the horizon for radio stations. I do however see fairness and equity for artists.

  26. Michael Babbitt

    21. Apr, 2010

    Having worked for commercial radio in the past, I know that there is barely enough ad revenue to pay the bills. The DJ’s are paid very little, and the cost of operating the towers and paying the blanket performing rights fees, sales staff, etc. really don’t make for huge profits. As it is, indie artists do get some play but this bill will end that. Worse, radio stations themselves could be forced to shut down…or even worse, the “Too big to fail” mantra could come into play followed by a government takeover. With the govt. running the stations the RIAA would finally have total control of what is played, once again…and that of course would only include the artists on their host of major labels.

    • Michael Babbitt

      21. Apr, 2010

      Briefly read the bill and have concluded that the fees are not enough to put anyone out of business. It doesn’t mean that I support the bill, but I recant my statement about putting radio out of business. Clearly it won’t do that.

      • refe

        21. Apr, 2010

        This post was written about a year ago when the bill was still undergoing changes and many of the details were either unformed or unclear. While I still believe that there is likely to be collatoral damage if this bill goes through, the terms are much less alarming than they appeared early in the process. For example, the tiered fee structure which takes into account the size and profitability of the individual station, etc.

        I will probably close comments because the discussion has moved far beyond the point that this post addresses and with all the new information out there now it seems silly to debate these outdated 5 points.