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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How to kill your golden goose

This article is a modern day music industry adaptation of the Aesop's fable about the idiots who killed the goose that laid them a golden egg everyday. Seems they weren't satisfied with what they were getting. Sound familiar?

The MusicFIRST Coalition - -- whose members include the RIAA, SoundExchange, the American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy, and the Recording Artists Coalition -- was formed in June to lobby for a performance royalty from broadcast radio and television.

Rumour has it the coalition is proposing changes to the law that would ... have small commercial stations -- "small" is not defined -- pay a flat royalty rate of $5,000 per year, while noncoms and college stations pay $1,000 a year. ...

Asked for comment, MusicFIRST spokesman Tod Donhauser [said], "This document expresses the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition's fair and balanced approach to a performance right on radio. We are advocating for a long-overdue performance royalty that would be fair to both performers and broadcasters, therefore we are recommending an accommodation be made for small broadcasters, college stations, nonprofits, and religious programming. AM and FM radio should compensate artists for their hard work, talent, and dedication, and not least of all, for the content that drives their listeners and advertising revenue."

Radio does compensate artists by giving them something valuable - publicity - for free. What does MusicFIRST give artists for free? Come to think of it, why is MusicFIRST insisting that radio stations - which already provide free airtime - compensate artists in the first place? That's rich (pardon the pun), given that according to one industry whistleblower, record labels routinely rip off the artists they sign.

This last part really takes the cake for hypocrisy and cyncism, tho:

... Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) ... planned to introduce legislation that would impose a performance royalty on broadcasters, and MusicFIRST and the RIAA on one side and the NAB on the other have been dueling over the matter in the press and on Capitol Hill.

MusicFIRST ... took exception to NAB President/CEO David Rehr's practice of referring to a performance right as a "tax on local radio" and sent Rehr a dictionary defining the word tax as "a contribution for the support of a government."

Um, ok, let's see now. MusicFIRST is trying to get legislation passed by the government to impose this new fee on radio stations.

Perhaps someone should send MusicFIRST a definition of "support of a government."

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