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Life Imitates Satire
December 20, 2007 10:27 AM   Subscribe

In the increasingly surreal battle between the RIAA and music listeners, reality and satire can be hard to discern.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot (50 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm. Tom Waits is, as far as I know, not a complete dick. Maybe theres some kind of point here?
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on December 20, 2007


My favorite copyright case illustrating the difference between composition (songwriting) rights and performance (sound recording) rights involves the Beastie Boys.
posted by exogenous at 10:34 AM on December 20, 2007


Uh, what's wrong with this? As the article says, just about every other country on the planet does it. It's a bizarre anomaly, and perfectly reasonable that they should consider rectifying it.
posted by flashboy at 10:38 AM on December 20, 2007


Just about every other developed nation has national health care, too. I love our priorities right now...
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:45 AM on December 20, 2007 [9 favorites]


"I wanna bite the hand that feeds me..."
posted by Mapes at 10:53 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Somebody forwarded me the Onion article without atribution and it took me until the thrid paragraph before I made the obligitory "wtf - this has to be some kind of joke!" realization.

favorite line from the Onion article: "Top 40 radio is taking the power out of the hands of the Ahmet Erteguns of the world and bringing it back to the people of Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting."
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:55 AM on December 20, 2007


*sits on creaky rocking chair*

I remember when all this was fields. As far as the eye could see.

And I remember when cars didn't have any of the front wheel drive nonsense. You spun-out in the winter, just like everyone else.

And I remember when radio stations were considered an invaluable asset in promoting a new artist. And any kind of restriction that might have taken a musician out of rotation would have the music industry up in arms, as being an attempt to reduce their sales.

Now everything is all topsy-turvy, with the e-pods and the hipsity-hoppity music. No wonder the world has gone mad. It's not like it was in my day, when everyone thought that it was Satan that drove music. Now we know it's the RIAA.

I guess we didn't guess evil enough.

::sigh::

*rocks*
posted by quin at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2007 [24 favorites]


sometimes my upstairs neighbor can hear my stereo.

should i be worried?
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:58 AM on December 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


Talk radio and religious broadcasts would pay nothing.

Good, those institutions need all the leverage they can get. Our airwaves are sorely lacking in this respect.

Remains to be seen how pay-to-play would affect small FCC-licensed stations, such as the low power FM station I work at on my college campus. Our hands are tied already by ever-changing FCC regulations and persistent rumors about sweeping changes. According to the article, annual "pay to play" fees would be staggered for smaller broadcasters, with nonprofit stations "only" paying a $1,000 a year. Talk radio punditry and religious trip benefit, terrestrial radio moves one step closer to the precipice.

Of course, as has been pointed out, this country has a lot more to squirm over than the state of radio.
posted by Curry at 10:59 AM on December 20, 2007


Radio should pay the musicians for the music it broadcasts, I'm fully in agreement there. Its the part where the RIAA is involved that I stop being in agreement. The musicians will get, what, maybe one cent for every thousand dollars that the RIAA takes in, if they're lucky?
posted by sotonohito at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2007


Forgot to add, WTF? Religious broadcasts are exempt? How does Congress figure that saying "Jesus loves you, send us money to keep the station going" every now and then is somehow worth an exception to paying for boadcasting a band's music? Or is this more BS from the same source that grants religion a tax exemption? Religion is a business, it takes in money, it gives out product, it should be treated exactly the same as any other business and I don't care if that's on the radio or in their stores.
posted by sotonohito at 11:04 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


So the radio station pays musicians royalties, the label pays the radio station through 'payola', and deducts the 'payola' as an promotion expense from the musicians? I don't understand how anyone comes out ahead here as long as payola is still going on.
posted by bobo123 at 11:09 AM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


sometimes my upstairs neighbor can hear my stereo.

should i be worried?

posted by TrialByMedia

If you are my neighbor, you should.
posted by micayetoca at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2007


somewhat related, for those that haven't read it: here
posted by rooftop secrets at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


sometimes my upstairs neighbor can hear my stereo.

should i be worried?


If you live in Britain, yes.
posted by flashboy at 11:15 AM on December 20, 2007


If internet radio stations have to pay, then terrestrial stations should obviously pay, too.

However, hearing the RIAA talk about artists makes me vomit a little. The best thing they could do for artists would be to dissolve themselves and let the artists renegotiate their contracts with distribution channels directly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The broadcasters argue that they are providing free advertising to musicians, who then make money from touring and record sales.

Plenty of artists don't buy this (especially older artists who don't tour or sell albums, but whose hits still keep oldies stations in business)


Who are these artists that don't sell records but are still on the radio? Something tells me it's not a whole lot. I'm trying to think of older recording artists who are still alive that you can't buy records of but who are on the radio. Mel Torme? No, you can still buy his stuff. The Capitols, who recorded The Cool Jerk? They play that a lot on the radio. Nope, they're still selling records. Who the fuck is this? It's driving me nuts.

But I'll say this, if it weren't for radio, I'd have never even heard of the Cool Jerk, and I wouldn't have bought a capitols album years ago.

and Tom Waits, I love you, but what the fuck? You're not on commercial radio dude. You sell tons of albums and college kids play it on college stations which make approximately $JackShit.00 How much do you think they can or will pay you? Come out of it, man! I mean christ, is internet radio putting so much goddamn money in your pocket now that they have to pay you for playing your music? No? Huh. I guess that's because it's deader than old Marley now that they have to pay you for playing your music.

Here's what's going to happen. This legislation will pass because our country is fucked in the head right now. And what will happen is for approximately 2 months clearchannel will take it in the pants. (that's the bright side. I hate those fuckers.) then what clearchannel will do is start killing radio stations. maybe They'll sell a whole chunk of bandwidth to google I don't know. but anything that isn't earning back the royalty fees is gone. then they'll have top 40. that'll earn, so it'll stay. (also, college's will start closing their radio stations to avoid liability) advertising fees will go up, and mom and pop local stores will stop advertising on radio. the car dealerships and all that will go away. i guess that's a bright side, too. then what'll happen is you'll start to hear talk of viacom and cleachannel having meetings together. it'll be a big deal, and the word merger will be used a lot. viacom will buy out clearchannel and what'll happen is that the single unstoppable promotional entity of "MTV AND ALL TOP40 RADIO" will start deciding what they want to play based on who asks for the lowest royalties. I give this a year tops before it starts happening. Immediately we'll be back in a payola circumstance except that now the payola will also come with a little contract saying "Viacom is licensed to play this music when they want for zero moneys." Thanks recording artists! You've shown tremendous business acumen!
posted by shmegegge at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Clearchannel vs RIAA? I don't know which abusive monopoly I want to see take it worse. I would think that CC has the ability to get the pro-them message out
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:41 AM on December 20, 2007


This thing has gotten so far out of hand that I actually believed the onion article until half way through the second paragraph.
posted by zorro astor at 11:48 AM on December 20, 2007


Grandpa, did they really used to play music on the radio?
posted by caddis at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


> sometimes my upstairs neighbor can hear my stereo. should i be worried?

Is your neighbour's apartment a public location owned by you? If so, and if you live in one of many european countries, chances are that you have to pay.

(coincidentally, my national collecting society sent me nice "do you play music for your customers?" letters both yesterday and today. from what I can tell, I'd have to pay roughly 50 cents per business day if I opened my apartment to the public, and twice that if I left the tv on).
posted by effbot at 11:50 AM on December 20, 2007


I say let's go back to payola.
posted by The Deej at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2007


Meh. This will get codified into law, the radio stations will play twice as many commercials, and people will listen to them anyway. The radio stations will make a big stink and explain that the extra commercials are because the RIAA wanted more money. Everyone will hate the RIAA more.

It's good to see that the RIAA isn't giving up on finding new ways to make people hate them.
posted by mullingitover at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2007


Hmm. Tom Waits is, as far as I know, not a complete dick. Maybe theres some kind of point here?

Only if you're an established artist who can't really be benefited (as things stand now) in any appreciable way by having your music played on the radio. I'm a little shocked that someone like Waits would embrace an it's-all-about-me ethos that fucks the platform over for emerging artists, but that said, I have no idea what he's thinking just in terms of his own bottom line -- if you're a programmer and you know that no matter what you play, you gotta pay somebody for it, who are you gonna play? Cost of playing the music being equal, I mean. Will it be Tom Waits, or whoever's single is in the top ten that week? If you think traditional radio all sounds alike now...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:54 AM on December 20, 2007


I get all my new music through iPod commercials.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:56 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if there were a way for musicians to undercut and tell radio stations, you can play my music for free. That said, if I'm understanding the situation correctly, the problem is that right now, the radio stations already pay money to the songwriter, but if you performed on the cut you don't get anything.
posted by drezdn at 11:58 AM on December 20, 2007


"It would be nice if there were a way for musicians to undercut and tell radio stations, you can play my music for free."

There is. Don't use the RIAA to release your music.
I don't know how many radio stations would play your music, tho.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 12:15 PM on December 20, 2007


The more I think about it, I think that the RIAA is a perfect example of how sometimes a traditional corporate mentality is not only ethically questionable, but downright bad business sense.

In the long run, free radio play is a good thing for artists and labels. I really don't think there's much debate about that. Since they were both born, radio and commercially recorded music have always been best buddies. They rely on each other, and neither could really exist without the other. Before MTV, radio wasn't just free advertising; it was your primary venue of communication with your audience.

Internet radio could have grown up to be friends with radio and record labels too, but the RIAA permanently burned that bridge. And the reason they burned that bridge, as far as I can tell, was to create a small, temporary spike in their member labels' stock prices.

Being corporate gives you an obligation to do anything you can to make money for your stockholders in that quarter. That's why MySpace is so full of ads that it crashes your browser. The dime that Fox gets from you spending a day clicking around on MySpace is more important than the several dimes they might get from your longtime membership.

The RIAA has to answer to a lot of people who can't see past next quarter. That's why they'd rather kill an excellent source of PR for a few months' worth of royalties than develop a long-lasting relationship with that source of PR.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:18 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is. Don't use the RIAA to release your music.

This actually wouldn't work. If you don't belong to the RIAA, they still collect money in your name, but you can't get it until you join. (Seriously)
posted by drezdn at 12:25 PM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here's an example of how it works with webcasts.
posted by drezdn at 12:28 PM on December 20, 2007


I would expect, in a capitalist society, that decisions like "I will charge you for music" would be made competitive by the music companies, not the union (which the RIAA basically is). This is not a free market at all!
posted by niccolo at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2007


sometimes my upstairs neighbor can hear my stereo.
should i be worried?
posted by TrialByMedia


Meta-eponysterical.
posted by yerfatma at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


it's a far from sure conclusion that this is going through - remember that these are multibillion dollar corporations that riaa is trying to squeeze

whatever money the riaa is going to get from this from stations that keep music formats is going to be more than offset by what they're going to lose from stations that go to a talk format - and i think many will

how are they going to have hit singles if there aren't many radio stations left playing them?

but it may not happen - all the radio stations need to do is have a "no music weekend" - "don't like radio with no music? - if the riaa has their way, that's what you'll have - monday, call your congressman so it doesn't happen again"

truth is, though, i wonder if this might be just a way to legalize payola - "we'll pay your fee for you if you play this, this and this ..."
posted by pyramid termite at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2007


I don't get it. What is wrong with people paying for the music they are broadcasting (and, incidentally, profiting from)? The only real problem is the rather extreme inequity of what a web-caster vrs. a traditional caster has to pay.

And the amounts mentions are pretty minor. $5k/year for a small station, $1k/year for a non-profit.

Since it is a flat rate, it will have no effect whatsoever on what artists get played.

Methinks some people are making more fuss then it deserves 'cause it is the morons at the RIAA asking for it, not to mention they didn't RTFA.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:09 PM on December 20, 2007


Talk radio and religious broadcasts would pay nothing.

As has been pointed out upthread, this is pretty backwards. Whenever I'm unlucky enough to be exposed to Glenn Beck, "Dr." Laura or god help me, Tom fucking Leykis, I feel sick to my stomach. It seems like anyone broadcasting that much hate and ignorance ought to at least do so with some disclaimer. "Be advised: The views expressed on this program are not those of anyone who has ever read a book or been held once in their lives."

I realize they aren't using RIAA music, which is at issue here, but surely we could work out some kind of psychic carbon tax?
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:20 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what [Waits is] thinking just in terms of his own bottom line

I've been turning this over in my head for a couple of hours now. The only thing I can think of is this: he believes that if someone profits from your work, you should be paid for it, an uncontroversial position on its face. Also, he's recognizing that the vast majority of radio income goes into the pockets of companies like Clear Channel who have solid-gold toilets.

Now to that you add the fact that (a) he doesn't tour much anymore -- I got tix to see him in Memphis last year (FANTASTIC show, thanks, Tom), and that motherfucker sold out in 30 minutes or so because it was such a rare thing -- and (b) he's losing record sales to illegal filesharing. He's looking to make it up, and he thinks this is a decent tradeoff that helps everyone, not just himself.

I don't necessarily fault him for this reasoning, but he clearly hasn't thought the big picture through. This will turn corporate radio into even more of an empty, repetitive wasteland, and will all but kill independent stations. This means less exposure for those who need it most -- the internet's going to have to pick up that role now, and let radio die.

And the amounts mentions are pretty minor. $5k/year for a small station, $1k/year for a non-profit.

Many of these kinds of stations have to resort to passing the hat as it is just to keep the lights on. They do it for love of the game, and hope to break even at the end of the year. This just made it harder for them to do that. On the other hand, internet radio stations already have to pay this, so it's hard to argue that broadcast stations shouldn't have to as well.

Since it is a flat rate, it will have no effect whatsoever on what artists get played.

Not so. Corporate radio has already orchestrated a policy of pushing the stuff that takes off like a rocket first and foremost. You increase their cost of operation, you decrease their incentive to play unknowns and niche music.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


If internet radio stations have to pay, then terrestrial stations should obviously pay, too.

And what Bovine Love said. Do I think commercial operations should have to pay royalties? Not sure. But if Internet radio, satellite radio, and cable TV music all have to pay royalties, why is conventional radio excepted? If there's a good reason, I haven't read it yet.

It seems like these business are already getting a free ride with FCC licenses that cost far less than they are worth. Why give them another free ride? (unless you want to change copyright laws completely, and I would agree there.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:30 PM on December 20, 2007


Standard practice here in New Zealand. The radio stations fill out forms listing every song they played, and the fees get divided up on a pro rata basis, to each artist. But they only record songs for one week every few months (maybe one per year). Which always for some reason coincided with New Zealand music week at the student radio station I was involved with (many moons ago).

It's not particularly onerous: I don't think even student radio stations had problems with the fees.

YMMV, obviously.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:45 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


That Fraunhofer dude is nothing but trouble
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:47 PM on December 20, 2007


Bovine Love writes "What is wrong with people paying for the music they are broadcasting "

Because there is worth in the exposure the artists get. Cripes the exposure is so valuable there are laws against the artist paying stations to play their music.
posted by Mitheral at 3:08 PM on December 20, 2007


Methinks some people are making more fuss then it deserves 'cause it is the morons at the RIAA asking for it, not to mention they didn't RTFA.

This is a pretty big deal, in that it would make the RIAA even more powerful than it is right now. They would be the ones collecting these royalties, and they'd collect it for *all artists*. Then they'd dole it out as they see fit. That's how the whole fucked-up system works: Congress has basically given the RIAA and its quasi-subsidiaries a national monopoly on collecting royalties, and it's from this that they derive almost all of their power.

This proposal would give them an iron grip not only over internet radio and public performance, which they have now, but over terrestrial radio as well. It's the one thing they're missing.

And we all know that the RIAA is nobody's friend except their own, and occasionally the music labels'. They're certainly not the consumers' or artists' friend.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:39 PM on December 20, 2007


This is going to be be a much bigger deal in the near future than it is now, because the advent of digital AM radio, with its 48 kbit/sec data rates (enough for quite good stereo music, as I understand it) combined with its much greater geographic coverage than FM, will bring music pre-eminence back to AM with a vengeance, and raise up a whole new generation of problems with recording off the air for both AM and FM.

Brace yourselves.
posted by jamjam at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2007


I would expect, in a capitalist society, that decisions like "I will charge you for music" would be made competitive by the music companies, not the union (which the RIAA basically is). This is not a free market at all!

A union run by corporate executives is not a union of the people. The point of a union is to fight management, not get ruled by it more efficiently.

As it stands, the RIAA isn't particularly free-market, but it seems pretty indicative of modern capitalism to me.
posted by Arturus at 4:45 PM on December 20, 2007


That's just what the music world needs, another arbitrary fee paid out to SoundExchange, a company well-known for its inability and/or unwillingness to actually pay artists the money it owes them.

It seems like high time that RIAA (and its SoundExchange lap dog) be investigated for violation of RICO statutes IMHO.
posted by clevershark at 6:41 PM on December 20, 2007


The best thing they could do for artists would be to dissolve themselves and let the artists renegotiate their contracts with distribution channels directly.

Sorry, but we don't have time for rational solutions!

As a strong supporter of indie webradio, I have to say that they are seriously missing the point. I only know of the existence of several of my current favorite artists because of webradio. Nowadays, very few people would buy an album, or even download a free album from an indie performer who is giving it away for free on their own, unless they had heard something of theirs before. Webradio gives these artists a platform, a place for their sounds to be heard, so they can gain exposure (and, coincidentally, entirely voluntary PayPal donations from their fans) and thus make more music.

Don't believe me on the no-hear-no-buy theory? Go into your local music shop and go into the section which contains a genre of music that you like but don't listen to a lot. Pick up a CD from an artist you've never heard anything by before. Now attempt to convince yourself to buy it, based on the information you have at your disposal (which, if you are following this experiment correctly, will equal zero). See?

If the RIAA is reading this, incidentally, I now own about 30 large-label CDs because of web radio, which I would not have otherwise owned, for exactly this same reason.
posted by Reth_Eldirood at 8:00 PM on December 20, 2007


Well, that would be disappointing, because so many people seem to think that radio stations already have to pay or license the music they play, and I enjoy pointing out gaps in the iron grip of Intellectual property law.

I'd hate seeing more encroachment of IPR, but I really hate the idea that the government would just had licensing fee collection to the same groups that do it for everything else. That might have been necessary in the 50's and 70's, but with today's information technology it really isn't needed. Rather, the government could setup a sort of automated auction system. Individual artists could list the prices they'd want for certain types of play, and webcasters, broadcasters, whoever, could then pick songs that fit their budgets. Lots of artists would put up free stuff, most likely.
posted by delmoi at 9:44 PM on December 20, 2007


Standard practice here in New Zealand. The radio stations fill out forms listing every song they played, and the fees get divided up on a pro rata basis, to each artist. But they only record songs for one week every few months (maybe one per year).


Same thing here, actually. But the collections organization was created by the RIAA, and is staffed with its refugees.

Also, they don't have to tell anybody about if and how they're distributing the money they collect. And in the past they've only distributed 60-70%.

Also, they provide no tools to help, and don't send out invoices.

Also, if nobody shows up and claims the money in three years, they get to keep it.

The list goes on ...
posted by bhance at 5:43 AM on December 21, 2007


After thinking about it a bit, it's reasonable to regard radio broadcast in the same way as the other listed forms of broadcasting for a few reasons; first- it's fair; second- as a physical product (the CD) loses it's stranglehold as the foundation of the "music" business, the other streams of revenue become important, and finally because i don't think that radio royalties will make the type, amount or quality of music available on radio any worse.

I'd like to see the following though:
- make it easy for artists or small agents to register themselves and their recordings
- royalties are based on 100% actual data - every song played is logged, not just those played during a couple of weeks per year. In this computer age, that's not a difficult requirement.
- royalties are paid strictly according to the logs, not some industry-supplied rough guideline, so that all played artists, including indies, get paid.

anyways, once they've stopped yelling, all the big radio companies have to do is invest in record labels, then they'll be paying themselves the radio royalties.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:19 AM on December 21, 2007


I'm with Artful Codger; those sound like pretty good suggestions.

On others:
The idea of bands independently negotiating with stations would be disastrous. The stations don't want 20 contract officers, so they would only deal with conglomerates or the biggest bands; it would not be worth their while to deal with small ones.

Just because airplay has value doesn't mean that the artist shouldn't get payed. The station isn't doing the artist a favour, they are trying to make a buck (or, in the very odd case, doing it out of passion). There is no particular reason they should be allowed to make a buck off the backs of the artists.

I'm fully on board with the RIAA being inefficient idiots (and possibly SoundExchange too). But that points to the need to clean up the organizations. It still doesn't justify not paying the artists and not charging the stations.

The idea that increased costs to the station will decrease indie play is a little odd. By that argument, stations should also be tax free and have no social obligations since it would get them off the payola system. Again, the argument that the industry is broken doesn't justify not paying the artists; it points to the need to fix the industry (which appears is going to suffer a correction one way or the other).
posted by Bovine Love at 7:35 AM on December 21, 2007


I'm somewhat torn on this, but I tend to see the current situation (as applies to terrestrial radio) to be pretty good, actually. (There was a comment upthread about how if webradio has to pay performance royalties as well as songwriter royalties, then terrestrial should as well -- I agree, but the other way around; I DON'T think Internet radio should have to pay performance royalties in addition to songwriter royalties. But, sadly, I don't make the rules.)

Stations already do have to pay songwriter royalties via ASCAP/BMI licenses, which require reports, typically of a few sequential days of logs taken at random a few times a year. They call you up, say "Send me logs from 12/19-12/21" (for example), and you do. If, for some reason, you don't have logs from the time they ask for (sometimes they ask for them farther back; I think, in my experience, ASCAP typically asks for logs from a few months ago, where BMI will typically ask for more recent ones), you tell them and they give you another range, and it works out.

The reason why I think this is more-or-less fair: Radio play acts as a promotional tool for the single or album it's on -- that's where the performers (ideally....) get their income from radio play. I listen to the radio, I hear your single, like it, and buy your album -- and you get, say, a whopping dollar from the 15 dollars the CD costs that goes to pay back your label for pressing the disc, recording it, promotion, etc. The songwriter of that single, however, only gets a(n even smaller) portion -- having, say, written, maybe 1/13th of that album (at least for that particular song that I heard on the radio out of the rest of the songs on the album).

So, if stations pay nothing to nobody for playing records, the performer comes out "ahead"[1], and the songwriter would get kind of screwed. Because if KXXX plays the bejeezus out of "The Cool Jerk", more and more people will hear it, and be potentially swayed to pick up the Capitols' record. However, for all that airplay, the songwriter would get very little of that, the 1/13th share of the album.

Of course, this does fall apart a bit with older artists -- there are only so many people who are going to buy the Capitols' record, and typically once you've bought it, you're not going to KEEP buying it over and over. (Well, at least not on the same format, you're not.) However, the songwriter keeps getting royalties.

For bands that write their own material, this is great -- you might sell as many albums as you're ever going to sell... but as long as radio keeps playing your hit, you're still going to make money off it. (This is why for every band I've been in, I always credit everyone in the band with equal co-authorship of the song. Not that anything I've done is gonna be a hit, but...) On the other hand, if your band's one hit was a cover (say, Taco's "Puttin' On The Ritz"), you're kinda screwed. (Ditto for country acts or pop acts of the past, where it was rarer to find singer/songwriters.)

As an aside, that's also one reason I find Tom Waits' involvement in this a little funny; I'd wager he's made a magnitude more from songwriting royalties than what he'd have made from radio performance royalties; though his original version of "Downtown Train" is gorgeous and moving, Rod Stewart's abortion of a cover of it gets all the airplay.

That said, I could somewhat see a movement to allow for performance royalties to be charged as well, though, this isn't the way to do it:
* Why are talk/religious exempt? I can see talk being exempt from CLIPS, sure, but for when they play full songs as hour-fillers, f'rinstance? Charge 'em. Ditto Religious stations. They already do have to have ASCAP/BMI licenses, so why should they get a waiver on paying performers?
* The idea of having the RIAA collect is so wrong. Look how well they've done with everything else involving getting money to performers in the past. (Which also makes it funny that the RIAA's argument is "WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE BANDS?!?!", since, ahm, perhaps you should remove the log from your eye before talking about the mote in other people's, huh?)
* The Sliding Scale is a great idea -- but why is it so much more than ASCAP/BMI licenses? They use a sliding scale as well, but IIRC, their bottom end is _$500_. Not $1000-5000.

And, finally -- there've been quite a few times this type of legislation has gone forward in the US -- it's always failed. I'm not too worried that it'll pass this time, either. The RIAA has powerful lobbyists, though I believe Clear Channel's are MORE powerful. Which, um.... admittedly doesn't exactly sit well for me either way you slice it. But, I guess I'll have to cheer for the evil party that helps my industry more. And, besides, as mentioned upthread, too, if this DOES pass, all we'll see is indie bands signing away their rights to get the performance fees anyway, as has begun to happen with Internet streams of terrestrial radio stations, particularly those owned by Clear Channel. Great.

Full disclosure: I do work in radio, so I am admittedly biased towards my industry.


[1] Well, OK, the record label comes out ahead, but then, they always do.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2007


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