RSS
Add to Chrome
Congressman Compares Lack of Radio Performance Tax to Slavery

Congressman Compares Lack of Radio Performance Tax to Slavery

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) takes the fight over terrestrial radio’s refusal to pay performer royalty fees to the next level.

It seems the debate over terrestrial radio performance royalty fees is heating up these days with news that House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) recently said that the lack thereof makes slaves out of artists.

“In 1865, slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment. No more free labor,” Conyers told a crowd at a musicFIRST, a RIAA-funded advocacy group, press conference. “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.”

Calling slavery a “great problem” is sorting of putting it mildly, but comparing it to the lack of a performance tax for musicians cheapens the misery endured.

Aside from the fact that slaves couldn’t simply choose another vocation as music artists can, injecting such heated rhetoric into the debate only complicates the ability of both sides to have a rational dialogue with one another, especially when Conyers says that he’d first like to find a compromise with radio broadcasters before moving forward with legislation.

Not helping any is comments by the NAACP referring to the lack of a performance tax as a violation of musicians’ civil rights.

“Being paid fairly for your labor is one of the most basic civil rights, which is why we are pleased to support musicians everywhere to ensure that they are duly and fairly compensated when their music is enjoyed by radio listeners,” said Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.

Now when it comes down to it I agree with the RIAA that radio broadcasters should have to pay the same royalty fees as everybody else – online streaming broadcasters, satellite radio, etc.. Why should terrestrial radio be exempt from paying what everybody else has to?

It’s just not fair.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the so-called “voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters,” is doing its best to fight Conyers efforts and the proposed “Performance Rights Act.”

It calls the new fees a “job-killer” that would harm “struggling artists,” and has made the brilliant move of countering Conyers’ bill with a bill of its own – the “Local Radio Freedom Act.” After all, who doesn’t like freedom right? Especially when it’s local.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]

[Hat Tip]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
Bill Jenkins
Bill Jenkins

I am all for the radio performance tax. That way, I might get some local FM stations that has some of my favorite conservative talk show hosts as some of these other stations die off.90% of the music made today is crap anyway. I'm fine with my XM radio for now.

Peter Alexander
Peter Alexander

The majority of U.S. radio stations pay a % of gross sales ALREADY to ASCAP and BMI to license the music being broadcast.

Tim
Tim

Wow. I've never seen so much ignorance in one place. First of all, no radio station is making anyone perform anything. The "performance" happened in a recording studio. A performance for which the performers were paid by their record company. A performance that led to a recording, which if it's on the radio, was a "hit" that sold hundreds of thousands, if not millions of copies, generating millions of dollars in revenue for the artist and the record company. Question: If Aretha Franklin gets some of the "performance tax" money, will the studio musicians that play on that record get a share too? No. Although they were part of the performance as well. In reality it appears roughly 50% of what is collected would go to the record company, 40% will be absorbed in administrative costs, and eventually 10% will trickle down to the artist. Maybe. And lets not forget that these artists do perform live, many in concert tours that gross millions in a year. Dave Matthews Band topped HALF A BILLION in tour revenue last year. Remember these artists would not have had a "hit" had their songs not been played on the radio. No one would have known about the songs or the artists to know to buy the music or go to the shows. Record companies have spent untold amounts of money and time over the years promoting artists to radio to convince them to play songs to make them hits. In the 50's they even PAID radio to play the records -- illegal payola! Remember the scandals? The idea that someone did something ONCE (recording a song) and that they should get pair for it repeatedly forever is INSANE. I replaced a lightbulb last week at work. Every time someone turns it on, they should pay me again, right? Because they're benefiting from the work I did. This congressman is an idiot.Further, satellite radio CHARGES people to listen to it. Regular radio does not. Regular radio has to warn you of severe weather, meet insane FCC rules and regulations (which satellite and internet radio does not) and already pays thousands in copyright fees per station to play the music.Thinks about this. Lets say I want to record a song. a song someone else wrote. I have to pay for the rights to record and distribute/sell the recording. I give it to radio to get it on the air so people find out about it. Radio has to pay again for the right to broadcast it. The local diner has the radio on so customers can hear it -- they too must pay for the right to turn up the radio so customers can hear it. Then, I get a gig at a local coffee shop to perform the song on open mic night- THEY had to pay for the rights to allow me to perform that music in their shop. That's the way it stands now. And now someone thinks more fees should be involved? Lunacy. Complete and utter lunacy.

Albert H. Nichols
Albert H. Nichols

please NO performance TAX . AM/FM Radio is the backbone of the music/perfamance buisness and are society it begain. computor down loading is just as pertanent!

Mike
Mike

Old people are funny when they try to understand technology lol. Music has been free for 10 years and no one's going to stop it.

DA Williams
DA Williams

If it were not for AM and FM radio, the major labels that exist today, never would have become as large as they have. It was local radio stations who played the records which exposed the artist to the masses. Record sales soared because radio was the marketing vehicle. Now the labels want to charge radio to do want hey have always done for free (minus payola), it just isn't right. And after this, they will come after Internet Broadcasters.

World Anarchy
World Anarchy

Even by American standards, this fellow is rather ignorant.Slavery is not 'unpaid labour'. Slavery is 'forced labour'.No radio station is forcing musicians to work for them.What is truly sad is this individual's belief that free labour is slavery. How mentally perverted must a man be to wish only to work for remuneration? Needless to say, work done solely for the sake of money is generally mediocre.Mark Twain was right. Congress really is America's native criminal class.

Overburn
Overburn

It has been clear for some time that american politicians use the country's rough past when they try to persuade the population.Surprisingly, for the first time in my life I partially agree with RIAA.Sure, the artists should be able to set taxes and stuff. But it would also benefit everyone if radio stations paid artists (artists, not their labels) for using their music. After all, I'm pro using copyrighted stuff for free when it's for personal use, but when you get something out of it, you should give something back.That being said, I hope that more artists realize that Labels are not the way. They will rule us all one day if nobody does anything about this.

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson

"House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) recently said that the lack thereof makes slaves out of artists."It's terrible that radio would do such a thing to artists. Making slaves out of artists is the record labels job, not radio!

mountain_rage
mountain_rage

There should not be a mandatory preset royalty fee for radio of any kind. It should be opt in from the artist and the price set by the artist. Everyone knows exposure is key to success, so in reality you should be able to find artist wanting to let you air their music for free. In the end the radio stations are offering just as much a service for artists as it is for listeners, this obligatory licenses are outrageous.

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

You don't get it. All the arguments you made are immaterial to the fact that terrestrial radio gets a free pass to play copyrighted material (minus a performance tax) while online radio stations and satellite radio does not.BTW, satellite radio is subject to the FCC :(

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

I like the notion of an opt in, but again it's an unfair advantage over satellite radio and online streaming - make opt in an option for all mediums.

Wocka_Wocka
Wocka_Wocka

Jared,How is this an unfair advantage over satellite radio and online streaming? Terrestrial stations are beholden to certain civic obligations, such as a required amount of PSA air time, that neither satellite radio nor online streaming companies have to provide. Also, the three forms of broadcast are not all directly comparable because they all have vastly different operating expenditures intrinsic to their form of broadcast. Because of the differences in these three forms of broadcasting, terrestrial radio does not necessarily benefit from the claimed unfair advantage of the lack of a performance tax.

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

Unfair because satellite radio and online streaming do have to pay the performance tax. Why does radio get a free pass?And they are comparable, if they weren't the NAB wouldnt have tried so hard to prevent the merger of Sirius/XM.Bottom line is that it's a business like any other and shouldn't be given immunity just because it plays PSAs.



VyprVPN Personal VPN lets you browse securely