Performance Fees Have Radio And Musicians At Odds
November 14, 2007 at 5:42 AM (PT)
LYLE LOVETT and ALICE PEACOCK came to Capitol Hill to ask lawmakers to make radio stations pay recording artists when they broadcast their music. But they weren’t the only singer-songwriters at the hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reports THE BALTIMORE SUN.
Sen. ORRIN G. HATCH (R-UT), a former chairman of the panel, seized the opportunity to remind the audience of his own musical career. HATCH, who has recorded several CDs of inspirational and patriotic music, reminisced about receiving his first royalty check, and spoke of his gold and platinum records. "I’ve been told I would have more if it weren’t for piracy," he said, before Sen. ARLEN SPECTER steered the hearing back to the issue at hand.
What I fail to understand after nearly 30 years in the radio industry is why the recording industry is willing to essentially bite the hand that feeds it.
The Senate panel is exploring whether performers should get the same sort of fee that songwriters receive when their music is broadcast on terrestrial radio. LOVETT and PEACOCK came down on the side of getting paid; radio executives told the panel that the promotional value of airplay should be compensation enough.
"What I fail to understand after nearly 30 years in the radio industry is why the recording industry is willing to essentially bite the hand that feeds it," said COMMONWEALTH BROADCASTING CORPORATION Pres./CEO STEVEN W. NEWBERRY, which operates 23 stations in KENTUCKY.
"The free-airplay-for-free-promotion concept has established a natural symbiotic relationship between local radio and the recording industry," NEWBERRY said. "A new performance tax takes this mutually beneficial system and transforms it into an unfair, one-sided scheme that financially benefits only the recording industry, and to the detriment of the local radio stations."
LOVETT objected to the use of the word "tax" for what he called "appropriate compensation for [an artist’s] hard work."
HATCH expressed empathy for both sides.
"When people create something of value, and it’s used by others, there ought to be some payment for that," HATCH said. The question, he said, is "How can we do this in a way that doesn’t bankrupt terrestrial radio?"