Hearing Set For Performance Rights Act
WASHINGTON -- February 27, 2009: The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), will hold a hearing on the Performance Rights Act on Wednesday, March 4, at 10 a.m.
The Performance Rights Act would for the first time require broadcast radio to pay performance royalties to copyright owners. Conyers and Rep.
Darrell Issa (R-CA) reintroduced the legislation -- which was debated in hearings last year -- on February 4. The Senate has its own
version of the bill, backed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Mark my words folks..John Conyers has been slipping and slipping big time. He and his collogues will be regretting their shortsightednesss if this bill passes. There will come a time when they will want to have equal accesss and the capacity to reach the masses via radio and other media outlets , the same way the Republicans are able to reach out via Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others. Conyers and his ilk will one day sadly discover that those outlets will not be able to accomadate them in an effctive way because many outlets like mine play music with our talk. If this passes look for a lot of stations to suddenly go all talk and leave music alone.. Others will cut side deals with labels and get a lower rate and bypass any small, independent record labels.. Bad move John Conyers, bad move-this esteemed Congressman has been duped and bamboozled. Someone on his staff has given him bad information
Anyone who is interested in music the least better pay close attention to this fight. And yes you will wind up on the same side as Clear Channel, radio One and all those other commercial giants. Here's whats going down.. The record labels are pushing to make sure everytime a record gets played on the airwaves a performance fee is paid. This is different then the fees one pays as a BMI, SESAC and ASCAP member. They are basing this 'tax' on what takes place in Europe. Sounds good on the surface, but here's the catch.
If this goes through, what will essentially happen is that we will find ourselves in a situation where it will become real costly to play music. This new coalition is really the same outfit that went and gutted internet radio making it so it costs 18 cent a song per listener. Do the math and ask yourself why we don't have more stations? Its too damn expensive after you reach a certain amount of listeners. The rate is scheduled to go up to 25 cent a song per listener in 3 years. This means if you have something cracking and you get even half a million listeners it will be impossible for you to pay for it, even with advertising. Don't believe me, look at some of the major costs overruns with Satelite radio that lead to the two major companies Sirius and XM combining forces and more recently just avoiding bankruptcy. Last I heard the company owed 92 million dollars, much of that in performance fees which apply to Internet and Satellite radio.
In my opinion its a short sighted measure designed to put money in the pocket of a few labels while removing the types of potential all this new digital technology now offers folks who wish to open up the musical landscape. In other words only the rich and powerful can take advantage of the 'easy access'.
What will happen here is that if a performance tax gets passed onto commercial radio is you will see an even tighter playlist with virtually no possibility of small, indy artists to ever get on the airwaves. The big argument made by the labels or this new Music First Coalition is that they are going after commercial giants like Clear Channel. I'm no big fan of CC which is often dubbed the evil empire, but conjuring up its name is a way get folks riled up while their own interests are quietly being compromised. So today you put a tax on companies like Clear Channel and pretty soon this performance tax will be hitting local and community stations and after that, all you DJs playing at clubs, house parties, using Serato etc..Yes, that day is coming before some money starved record executives starts making the case that the reason while your club is popping is because you are playing their copyright material and not adequately compensating them. This was something the labels tried to do decades ago. It didn't work back then, but now with an abundance of tech challenged easily impressed law makers, a Grammy ticket and lunch with Will I am or some other big named artists will have them going along with the misleading proposals of a smiling record executive. This is what this is all leading up to..Play the music publicly and pay a high performance tax.
What makes this entire thing really bad is that the way these laws were written for Internet radio is that the labels collect on your behalf no matter what. So let's say my homie passes me a song and says please play it. I still gotta pay the tax. It's is then up to my homie to go on down, fill out paperwork and other legal documents stating he's giving me a waiver. This makes it almost impossible to keep up with the thousands of small indy artists out there.. One may wanna let you play the material for exposure, someone else may wanna get paid. No one will wanna take chance of getting it wrong and getting sued, so companies will simply cut a deal with a label that has a large rooster and a catalogue of records and cut a deal where they pay less money. That company will only play music from that company. So maybe they cut a deal with Universal and Sony BMG. between the two labels they have decades of a material and hundreds of artists. If they play these artists for a cheaper rate, why would they venture to play an artist outside those two companies and risk getting caught up in a mess.
See people found all this boring and too complicated when we talked about this being applied to the Internet and digital platforms. But now its moving to traditional airplay and exposure. Watch this case carefully and please don't let a charming smile and some engaging words from a smooth talking record executive fool you. Let this one get buy and you will be paying big time..mark my words.
While MusicFirst Rallies For Performance Fee, NAB Gets Reinforcements
The ongoing battle between those pro and anti-performance fee will be ratcheting up a peg or two. DAVID HINCKLEY in THE DAILY NEWS reports that THE MUSICFIRST COALITION, which wants commercial radio to pay royalties to artists when it plays their recordings, will kick off its 2009 campaign TODAY (2/24) with a 2p rally at the RAYBURN BUILDING in WASHINGTON. Several legislators and a number of yet-unnamed artists are expected to attend.
Meanwhile, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS, which YESTERDAY (2/23) announced it had signatures from 119 House members opposing what the NAB calls a "performance tax." named 15 more lawmakers who'll oppose the introduction of "any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge" on local radio stations.
Taking dead aim at the MUSICFIRST event, NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON said, "NAB welcomes an honest debate over whether radio stations or the record labels have historically been a 'better friend' to musicians. Since the days of COUNT BASIE, there have been two constants in music: free radio airplay has propelled the financial success of countless performers, and those same artists have been systematically abused by the labels. For RIAA to now use artists as a shield in their quest for a performance tax is utterly cynical and hypocritical."
As evidence of that, WHARTON noted that the estates of COUNT BASIE and BENNY GOODMAN, as well as numerous other artists, have filed lawsuits against their record labels in recent years, including the BEATLES, TRAVIS TRITT, JAMES BLUNT and the ALLMAN BROTHERS.
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