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Start Saving Money To Play Those Songs


All eyes -- and a whole lot of pressure -- will be on Charles Warfield, June 25. The beloved broadcaster will be radio's main line of defense as, it appears, lawmakers are leaning toward making radio pay artists something for the use of their music. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee started to address antiquated laws -- from the 1940s -- involving music licensing, both over-the-air and now over the Internet. While everyone was in agreement the laws are old, not in tune with today's technology, and apply different rates to different distributors with very little reasoning, radio was in the crosshairs.

Congressman Blake Farenthold (pictured right) from Texas is on the committee. Farenthold worked the midnight-to-6 a.m. shift at a local radio station when he was 15 years old and he seemed to be the only friend radio had yesterday. When we spoke to the Congressman after the hearing yesterday, ever he seemed resigned to the fact that radio will be paying something soon. "It looks that way now."

Even though the NAB has been working to get signatures from lawmakers on its Local Radio Freedom Act, there are bills floating around the halls of Washington that would result in radio writing checks, The Songwriter Equity Act being one of them. Farenthold says that's bad news for radio. "There are several pieces of legislation that would up what radio has to pay, bring the performers into it, and change the way ASCAP and BMI operate. I think there is a lot of risk for increased cost for broadcasters. I think the committee is going to continue to hear from all the stakeholders. I always say that getting the government involved is like letting the bull loose in the china shop. If the content creators and the folks that deliver it can't get together and negotiate a solution themselves, Congress is going to step in and is going to come up with something nobody likes."

And while many broadcasters look to the NAB for leadership on this, it may be time every broadcaster to look at how they can get involved. Farenthold agrees, it's time to stop thinking the other guy is going to get things done for you. "I am worried that if folks in radio are not actively involved in lobbying -- lobbying is not necessarily a bad word; it is reaching out and talking to your congressmen and women and explain what is going on -- that they are going to get beaten by the songwriters and the artists who have pretty powerful folks up in Washington advocating for them."

Watch Congressman Farenthold at the Tuesday Judiciary hearing HERE
Read John Garziglia's May 14 Blog on this important topic HERE
The New York Times has a take on the hearing is HERE
Please leave your comments below

(6/12/2014 6:27:01 AM)
This is exactly what radio needs. Music is NOT the answer going forward. Most of us play it because we don't know what else to do. New spoken word formats, new talk stars and yes, new personalities. Now we all will have a reason to get creative again! I've played music on the radio for 50 years -- it's time for something else.

- Chris Roberts
(6/11/2014 11:49:34 PM)
It's my belief that many, many artists would prefer Radio pay it's "fair share" rather than expose their music.
Radio and Records has been a racket for decades, but times change. Radio has cooked it's own Goose in my humble opinion.

- Panama Jack
(6/11/2014 8:50:01 PM)
Broadcasters continue to believe radio is the way consumers find music; and that other music-based businesses (which pay performance royalties) are a minuscule part of the funnel. The "we are a promotional tool" argument does no good anymore. Charging for songs played won't work. Too many options exist.

This problem started as broadcasters refused to become involved when asked by those lobbying against these stiff fees in 2002, 2005, and 2007. There have been plenty of warnings.

- Ken Dardis
(6/11/2014 3:58:39 PM)
Talk about having the old jewels in a vice? I don't see any way out of this other than to re-visit those expense lines in the budget. Real revenue growth is lethargic and the media ecosystem is growing more complex.What's been happening to artists in this equation has been mostly unfair. Feels like the universe is correcting itself. But still...nobody wants to have ants in their lunch pail. Wishing for the best for all concerned.

- Larry
(6/11/2014 11:42:05 AM)
With a potential maximum audience within our city-grade signal area of about 2,000 people and a total annual - yes, ANNUAL budget of about $150k. If there's any significant increase in the $2k in fees plus hours preparing reports we already do it'll be the end of anything other than Gregorian chants, old "Amos 'n' Andy" shows and other public domain material on this station.

- John

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