[SoundExchange Chief Legal Officer Colin Rushing lays it down before Senate Judiciary]
Throughout the 80 years that the terrestrial radio performance right has been under discussion, broadcasters have argued in many ways that they are special and deserve different treatment than other business interests. Their arguments that their special status should result in them not paying performers– never valid – have now also been overtaken by events.
They say AM/FM radio is important because it is free, but they are no different than any other free ad-supported music platform available to consumers. They argue that providing public service announcements and news information is a reason to require music to subsidize their platform, and yet many music platforms provide these same services, not to mention that most digital music platforms are delivered over devices that provide local emergency notifications.
To the extent that AM/FM radio may be promotional, this is not a trait that sets them apart from other music services that compensate performers. Nor does it justify an uncompensated “taking” of musicians’ property. Rate-setting proceedings and licensing negotiations take promotional value into account as a matter of course, along with many other variables.
The potential for promotion exists in a lot of licensing arrangements. Television broadcast of a professional basketball game may promote a local team, but no one would suggest that the NBA should surrender the broadcast rights for free because of that “promotional value.” Why should music be any different?
Read his written testimony on the SoundExchange website.
SoundExchange’s CEO says it’s time radio starts paying all music creators fairly for their work.
On Monday, a group of radio broadcasters penned a letter in support of the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) push for deregulation of the $14 billion radio industry. Their letter was based on the NAB’s petition to the FCC this past June, in which the NAB sought to allow expanded broadcaster ownership of radio stations (i.e., increased consolidation) throughout the country. The NAB’s justification: broadcasters must adjust their business model to the realities of the new streaming world.
As a representative of the many creative parties who help craft music, we are frequently on the opposite side of issues from the NAB. And while I can’t comment on NAB’s specific requests, I was delighted to find so much common ground in their FCC filing in June….
I agree with the NAB that the law should “finally adopt rules reflecting competitive reality in today’s audio marketplace” and should “level the playing field” for all entities in the music economy.
If radio truly wants to modernize, it can start by taking a giant leap into the 21st century and paying all music creators fairly for their work. Stop treating artists like 17th century indentured servants, just so radio can reap bigger profits. If radio wants to have rules that reflect the music industry of today, then that should apply across the board.
We should resolve this gaping unfairness to artists before we begin talking about allowing radio to consolidate even further.
Read the post on Billboard
h/t Artist Rights Watch