Is Bono Being Boycotted?
June 10, 2009 at 12:21 PM (PT)
Which top-selling artist purportedly had his new single yanked from some radio stations playlists in retaliation for supporting royalties for musicians?
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reports no one involved will name the recording artist, but his no-play treatment by several radio stations is alleged in a complaint filed with the FCC and obtained by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. It claims recording artists are being threatened and intimidated. In the filing, the MUSICFIRST COALITION says the top-selling artist -- there are hints it could be U2 frontman BONO -- recently released a new album and spoke during APRIL (NET NEWS 4/20) in support of an effort to require radio stations to pay musicians royalties similar to those paid to songwriters.
Several stations within a major radio broadcast group notified the artist's label that they would no longer play his single on the air.
Soon after, it said, "several stations within a major radio broadcast group notified the artist's label that they would no longer play his single on the air."
"These are the cases we know about," MUSICFIRST Exec. Dir. JENNIFER BENDALL said. "We can only imagine what may be happening under the cover of silence."
A Response To Bono's Support Of Performance Fee?
In APRIL, BONO issued a statement on behalf of pay for musicians, saying, "It's only fair that when radio makes money by playing a recording artist's music ... the recording artist should be compensated just as songwriters are already."
Calls and e-mails by The AP to a spokeswoman for BONO were not immediately returned.
Other artists involved with MUSICFIRST include DON HENLEY, CELINE DION, CHRISTINA AGUILERA and WYCLEF JEAN.
The filing also alleges unfair treatment of other artists by radio stations in FLORIDA, DELAWARE and TEXAS. It does not identify any of the stations but accuses the stations of unlawfully putting their own financial interests above their obligation to serve the public. The group asks the FCC, which regulates the public airwaves, to investigate.
The controversy centers on legislation in Congress that would require radio stations to pay musicians royalties. Satellite radio, Internet radio and cable TV music channels already pay fees to performers and musicians, along with songwriter royalties. AM and FM radio stations just pay songwriters, not performers.
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS opposes the bill, called the Performance Rights Act. The NAB says it amounts to a tax on U.S. radio stations and threatens thousands of jobs.
The filing by MUSICFIRST, made late TUESDAY, also said:
- A DELAWARE radio station boycotted all artists affiliated with MUSICFIRST for an entire month.
- Before an interview, an artist was pressured by a TEXAS radio station to state on the air that the Performance Rights Act would cripple radio stations.
A Non-Commercial High School Station Boycotted musicFIRST Artists For 30 Days
ALL ACCESS has learned that the DELAWARE radio station in question is BRANDYWINE SCHOOL DISTRICT Non-Comm WMPH (SUPER 91.7)/WILMINGTON. A MUSICFIRST spokesperson would not confirm that, saying, "We are not confirming stations other than those included in the filing."
While no longer posted, a cached version of the site finds this posting:
WMPH Boycotts Music First Coalition Artists
WMPH made an educational boycott for one month simply to make a statement in the music industry. The MUSICFIRST coalition wants radio stations to pay the artist for playing their music. From mid-JUNE through mid-JULY 2007, WMPH refused to play songs by any artist affiliated with the MUSICFIRST coalition.
musicFIRST Argues What's 'In The Public Interest'
MUSICFIRST is asking the FCC to investigate these actions, find that the stations have violated their public interest obligations and consider the broadcasters’ malfeasance in connection with their license renewal. MUSICFIRST is also asking the FCC to consider this conduct as part of its overall review of the length of radio stations licenses, currently seven years.
"Our message to the FCC is clear," BENDALL said. "We respect a broadcaster’s right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. But we cannot tolerate broadcasters’ use of the public airwaves to stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest in pursuit of their narrow, private business interests."
In a press conference held TODAY (6/10), MUSICFIRST claimed that "dozens of stations," with various ownership, had turned down ads from the coalition.
NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON issued the following statement, "This allegation is nothing more than an act of desperation by a record label lobby losing on CAPITOL HILL and in the court of public opinion. On one hand, it highlights the unparalled promotional value of free radio airplay, which has propelled countless artists to stardom. We would also note that WILL.I.AM, a vocal proponent of the performance tax, and his group BLACK EYED PEAS are currently #1 on BILLBOARD's Pop 100 Airplay Chart with the song 'Boom Boom Pow.'"
"If there's an FCC probe involving the music business, it ought to focus on claims from numerous artists -- from THE BEATLES to PRINCE to CHER -- that they were cheated out of royalties by their record labels."
NAB Notes More Legislative Support Against Fee
NAB also noted that a bipartisan majority of House lawmakers are now on record in opposition to performance tax legislation.
Twelve more House members and three additional Senators are now on record against the Performance Fee.
Adding their support to the "Local Radio Freedom Act" are Reps. ANH "JOSEPH" CAO (LA-2), MICHAEL CASTLE (DE-AL), BOB ETHERIDGE (NC-2), BILL FOSTER (IL-14), MARCY KAPTUR (OH-9), MARY JO KILROY (OH-15), FRANK KRATOVIL (MD-1), TOM LATHAM (IA-4), KENDRICK MEEK (FL-17), ADAM PUTNAM (FL-12), DAVE REICHERT (WA-8) and DINA TITUS (NV-3). Sens. MAX BAUCUS (MT), MIKE JOHANNS (NE) and PAT ROBERTS (KS) have added their support to an identical resolution in the Senate.
NAB also pointed out that on numerous occasions, both record label executives and artists have recognized the promotional value of free radio airplay. Such statements include one from BONO, who said, "It's worth remembering that U2, you know we broke in the UNITED STATES through BOSTON and through radio stations like BCN and stuff like that. We depend on radio."