Broadcasters Head To Capitol Hill Today
Conyers: No Performance Fee = 'Involuntary Servitude'
March 2, 2010 at 1:32 PM (PT)
At a press conference to promote the radio performance royalty bill, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE Chairman JOHN CONYERS (D-MICH.) equated the broadcasters' power to play music without compensating the performers to involuntary servitude. The conference, set up by THE MUSICFIRST COALITION, also featured singer DIONNE WARWICK.
"In 1865, slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment. No more free labor," CONYERS said. "It abolished at the same time involuntary servitude. What does that have to do with what we're here for today? Well, when you tell somebody that you're benefiting from their work product, but there's no avenue for compensation, it kind of harkens back to that great problem."
Well, when you tell somebody that you're benefiting from their work product, but there's no avenue for compensation, it kind of harkens back to that great problem.
The HILL quotes WARWICK stressing the importance of artists to get paid for their work long after they have stopped touring and making new albums. "This is a critical issue for not only those of us who have made music our careers, but for those who are trying to make a name for themselves in the business," she said.
Citing MUSICFIRST's assertion that most stations would pay no more than $5,000 a year, with smaller stations paying only $100 a year, CONYERS declared, "If $100 will put you out of business, we can loan you the money."
CONYERS also cushioned the tough talk by reiterating his desire for the two parties to hold private discussions and negotiate an amicable agreement with broadcasters. So far, those negotiations have been unsuccessful.
NAB: Royalties For Foreigners?
Responding to today's pro-performance tax press event on CAPITOL HILL, NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON issued the following statement: "The unfortunate truth is that this legislation benefits foreign-owned record labels to the detriment of 'struggling artists.' With diminished revenues, radio stations will take less risk in exposing 'struggling artists.' This is a job-killing bill that threatens a musician's number-one promotional vehicle while transferring hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of companies based in TOKYO, PARIS and LONDON."
[Do you think artists are entitled to be paid for songs they perform that air on radio -- or is the NAB right in saying the airplay radio gives music is payment enough? Tell us what you think in the comments below.]