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RIAA Wants To Tax Radio Music

Thursday, May 28th, 2009


– 50 State Broadcaster Associations also express opposition –

WASHINGTON, DC — NAB President and CEO David Rehr urged lawmakers to oppose legislation introduced that would force America’s hometown radio stations to pay a new “performance fee” to the recording industry for music aired free on the radio. The legislation, introduced in the House, is supported by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). A measure opposing today’s Congressional action is expected to be introduced shortly.

“Local radio broadcasters consider this fee a ‘performance tax’ that will not only harm your local radio stations, but will threaten new artists trying to break into the business as well as your constituents who rely on local radio,” wrote Rehr. “Although the proponents of H.R. 848 claim this bill is about compensating artists, in actuality at least half of this fee will go directly into the pockets of the big record labels, funneling billions of dollars to companies based overseas.”

Three of the four largest record label conglomerates — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI — are internationally-based.

“Although the big record labels have seen their revenues decline over the last decade, local radio broadcasters are not the reason the recording industry is losing money, and it should not be the industry to fix it,” wrote Rehr.

To read a version of Rehr’s letter to House lawmakers, click here.

State broadcast associations representing all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, also issued a resolution today expressing opposition to a performance tax.

On numerous occasions, both record label executives and artists have recognized the promotional value of free radio airplay. Such statements include:

“I love a strong radio hit. All of us. That’s what our job is, to have a radio hit. Without radio, we couldn’t do what we do, but the job is to have a radio hit that sounds unique, and like you.”

— Jewel, Grammy-nominated recording artist, ‘Nashville Star,’ July 2008

“Alright, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts. If you win ‘Nashville Star’, you have to get on 200 major market radio stations. You have to.”

— John Rich, Big and Rich, ‘Nashville Star,’ July 2008

“I have to thank… every DJ, every radio guy, every promotions guy, everybody who ever put up a poster for me and spread the word.”

— Alicia Keys, recording artist and Grammy winner, 2008 Grammy Awards, February 2008

“[R]adio remains the best way to get new music into the listeners’ lives.”

–Sony BMG Executive VP Butch Waugh as quoted in Radio & Records, January 11

“[R]adio is the conduit to the people, the voice of the format and the lifestyle’s soundtrack.

-Sony BMG Nashville VP of Marketing Tom Baldrica, as quoted in Radio & Records, January 11

“Obviously, radio is probably the most important thing for a new rock band coming out. If you don’t get yourself on the radio, then you won’t draw bodies at the clubs and you won’t sell records.”

— ‘Another Animal’ drummer Shannon Larkin, Drum Magazine, 2008

“Country radio, thank you so much for being our mouthpiece. You know what we do means nothing if it never gets played, and no one gets to hear it.”

— ‘Rascal Flatts,’ Vocal Group of the Year, Country Music Awards, 2007

“I can’t even believe that this is real… I want to thank country radio. I’ll never forget the chance you took on me.”

— Taylor Swift, Horizon Award (for best new artist), Country Music Awards, 2007

“I have yet to see the big reaction you want to see to a hit until it goes on the radio. I’m a big, big fan of radio.”

–Richard Palmese, Executive Vice President of Promotion, RCA, 2007

“Radio has proven itself time and time again to be the biggest vehicle to expose new music.”

— Ken Lane, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Island Def Jam Music Group, 2005

“It is clearly the number one way that we’re getting our music exposed. Nothing else affects retail sales the way terrestrial radio does.”

–Tom Biery, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Warner Bros. Records, 2005

“That’s the most important thing for a label, getting your records played.”

— Eddie Daye, recording artist, 2003

“Radio helped me a lot. That’s the audience. I can’t see them, but I know they’re there. I can’t reach out and touch them with my hand, but I know they’re there.”

— B.B. King, recording artist, 2002

“If a song’s not on the radio, it’ll never sell.”

— Mark Wright, Senior Vice President, MCA Records, 2001

“Air play is king. They play the record, it sells. If they don’t, it’s dead in the water.”

— Jim Mazza, President, Dreamcatcher Entertainment, 1999

“I am so grateful to radio. Their support has truly changed my life, and I hope they know how appreciative I am for that.”

— Jo Dee Messina, recording artist, 1999

About NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America’s broadcasters. As the voice of more than 8,300 radio and television stations, NAB advances their interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at

The RIAA: A Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims to have the artists / musicians best interest at heart. However, over the years they have proved that this is not the case.

The RIAA has launched countless lawsuits against almost anybody and their grandmother… literally:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen oppose the ability of the RIAA and other companies to “strip Internet users of anonymity without allowing them to challenge the order in court”.[12][13]

The RIAA’s criticized methods of identifying individual users has led to the issuing of subpoenas to a dead grandmother[14], an elderly computer novice,[15] and even those without any computer at all.[16]

The RIAA has also brought lawsuits against children, some as young as 12.[17]
– Wikipedia

The RIAA says they are trying to protect the intellectual property rights of the artists. But, by trying to control and restrict the distribution of music, the end result is limiting the expose of most lessor known artists. As an example, take a look at peer-to-peer music software. The RIAA has attacked many of these, such as, Napster. After Napster was sued, millions of people were unable to “legally” share music that artists wanted available to the public. The RIAA has also sued peer-to-peer software makers Kazaa, BearShare and Limewire.

Here is one of the RIAA’s more recent press releases:

Music Community Calls for Swift Action To Enhance Global IP Protection As Part of Special 301 Process

WASHINGTON — Representing diverse sectors of the music community, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Recording Academy and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today issued a joint statement in response to an annual report by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) under a section of trade law known as “Special 301.” Under Special 301, USTR is required to identify countries that fail to provide adequate and effective protection for U.S. intellectual property and to take appropriate actions, including the possible imposition of trade sanctions and the loss of certain trading privileges.

This year’s report, available on the IIPA website at, outlines problems in a wide variety of countries but particularly stresses continuing problems in Russia and China, and emerging issues related to digital distribution in global markets.

Said the music community:

“In these troubled economic times, it is more important than ever that the U.S. government take meaningful steps to ensure that the most competitive parts of the U.S. economy—those that contribute to positive balance of trade payments—can effectively compete in global markets without facing unfair competition. The copyright industries generally, and the music community in particular, are among America’s most competitive sectors, and our contribution to the public welfare goes well beyond our economic contributions. We convey aspects of America that entertain, that reflect our diversity, and that showcase our country’s creativity. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously said: ‘Without music, life would be a mistake.’

“Unfortunately, the piracy of America’s creative genius by certain elements in other countries—particularly Internet-driven infringements—is drawing us towards life without music. Or perhaps more accurately, life without the capacity to sustain the livelihoods of those Americans who earn a living through the creation of music. For far too long, too many illegal enterprises—and businesses—have generated ill-acquired gains from the theft of America’s creative assets. It is time to end this sad chapter of illegality and irresponsibility. We, various voices of the music community, call upon global leaders to develop and implement policies and practices that reflect an appreciation of the value of creativity. Tolerance of organized criminal syndicates in multi-territorial enterprises engaged in the distribution of pirate product must end. Even more importantly, global leaders must ensure that their legal regimes do not permit or encourage willful blindness on the part of companies that provide access to infringing materials. ISPs in particular must be encouraged to play their part in preventing the use of their networks for the distribution of infringing materials. If legitimate companies are permitted to operate services that effect one of the greatest misappropriations ever witnessed, then there is little hope for creators to earn a living from their creations, or for America’s creative sector to continue to drive this country’s economic performance.

“Aaron Copland once remarked that: ‘To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.’ From where we sit, it appears all too conceivable, and we call upon the U.S. government to do everything in its power to address the barriers that we confront in markets around the world that are drawing us to this ‘incredible’ outcome. Today’s submission to the USTR by a group of copyright organizations under the umbrella group of the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) provides a comprehensive examination of many of the most urgent issues confronting the creative sector. Resolving these problems would be a good place to start in rebuilding the foundations for a thriving creative community, both here and around the globe.”

About A2IM:
A2IM launched on July 4th, 2005 to represent the needs of the Independent music label community. Currently, the organization counts over 225 music label members and 100 associate members (companies who don’t own masters but rely upon, provide services for, or otherwise support Independent music labels).

A2IM is a not-for-profit trade organization serving the Independent music community as a unified voice representing a sector that comprises over 30% of the music industry’s market share in the United States (and 37% of SoundScan digital sales). The organization represents the Independents’ interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. A2IM is headquartered in New York City. The organization’s board of directors is comprised of the following: Concord Music Group President Glen Barros; The Beggars Group CEO Lesley Bleakley; Razor & Tie Executive Vice President Dan Hoffman; Alligator Records Founder & President Bruce Iglauer; Roadrunner Records Executive Vice President Douglas Keogh; Bar/None owner Glenn Morrow; Lookout Records co-owner Molly Neuman; Tommy Boy Records Entertainment founder and CEO Tom Silverman; Amaechi Uzoigwe A2IM Board Chair and co-founder Definitive Jux. More information can be found at

About the AFM:

Founded in 1896, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), AFL-CIO, is the largest organization in the world dedicated to representing the interests of professional musicians.

With more than 90,000 members, the AFM represents all types of professional musicians, including those who record music for sound recordings, film scores, videogames, radio, television and commercial announcements, as well as perform music of every genre in every sort of venue from small jazz clubs to symphony orchestra halls to major stadiums. Whether negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying legislators, the AFM is committed to raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape.

About AFTRA:
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet, and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives, and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at

About the NMPA:
Founded in 1917, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is a trade association representing American music publishers. The NMPA’s mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and their songwriter partners in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights.

About The Recording Academy:
Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit

About The RIAA:
The Recording Industry Association of America is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States. In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conducts consumer, industry and technical research; and monitors and reviews state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™, and Diamond sales awards, as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.